I was reading through the proxy circular from one of my investments in a large Canadian bank.
A proposal was submitted by Bob Verdun, a relatively familiar name to people who have to hang out at annual meetings with certain banks. To give you a sense of the man, here is one media report from February of 2005:
YAWN The most seasoned performers know when it’s time to get off the stage. Sadly, activist gadfly Bob Verdun has never learned to read his audience. Verdun brought his circus act to Bank of Montreal’s annual love-in yesterday. With newly appointed chairman David Galloway either unable or unwilling to muzzle this motor-mouth, Verdun’s attacks on the bank’s board nominees ran on for 35 mind-numbing minutes. Verdun did land the occasional punch, noting that the bank had found a spot for corporate diva Guylaine Saucier (the Nortel Networks flameout). By continuing to tilt at personal windmills, Verdun lost the crowd long before Galloway pulled the plug. Shareholders who show up for these bore fests deserve better entertainment.
And another one from February of 2006 can be found here.
His latest proposal? Shift executive compensation to charitable purposes:
This Bank shall, as soon as practical, implement a system of senior executive compensation that shifts the largest part of compensation from direct personal payments into charitable funds that are directed by the appropriate executives after retirement.
He adds his rationale with this rather interesting observation:
Senior executive compensation has reached such a level that any executive who spends such income for personal consumption would be guilty of the worst form of environmental crime. Our threatened planet cannot survive such excessive personal consumption.
Making money is now an environmental crime. Or perhaps the expectation of how that money will be spent is now an environmental crime. Obviously, he has not been going to any Toronto shopping malls on the week-end. There seems to be quite a lot of excessive personal consumption and not just by overpaid bank executives.
Will Verdun show up at the annual meeting this year? Will his proposal be supported? My prediction: yes and no. We’ll find out on March 4.