At Chevron’s May 30, 2018 annual meeting in San Ramon CA, Newground Social Investment and Investor Voice called for a lower and more reasonable 10% threshold to convene a Special Meeting (it’s currently 15%). Here is the full text of our statement at the meeting:
Ladies & gentlemen, my name is Simon Billenness, and I stand to represent Investor Voice of Seattle to move item #10 – which seeks a reasonable 10% threshold for stockholders to call a “Special Meeting”.
Management can call a Special Meeting anytime – and in so doing maintains tight control over both the timing and agenda. Shareholders deserve the same right to convene a meeting – but one in which shareholders set the time and establish the agenda, free from fetters placed by management.
Within the reasonable constraint that a 10% threshold provides, why do Chevron shareholders need this right? We heard earlier about the legal case involving Ecuador. Given that Chevron management, under oath, has testified that a final verdict in that case would be devastating to our company, three facts loom large for consideration:
- A ruling just last week will send the Chevron-Ecuador case to Canada's Supreme Court.
- Chevron has lost three of its last four appellate rulings.
- Canada's Supreme Court is considered by many to be one of the world's most friendly toward human rights issues.
This makes the risk posed by this long-standing litigation particularly acute, and close-at-hand.
No one expects Chevron to meekly roll over. But our company did accept responsibility when it purchased Texaco’s liabilities, and it’s true that a settlement decades ago when this began might well have cost less than what we’ve shelled out to high-price attorneys for the past quarter-century.
Those poor people in Ecuador did suffer harm while Texaco and now our company made profit, so we suggest that a reasonable party would see benefit in extending a helping hand while also curtailing future costs. How best to achieve such an outcome is what shareholders need access to a Special Meeting to discuss, because it’s clear that the liability of potential judgements against our company has mounted exponentially during the decades that Chevron’s management has hot-headedly pleaded innocence.
Now we see an international campaign – signed by more than a million members – that calls on Chevron’s largest shareholder to vote FOR a change-of-course; and we also see Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) formally recommending a vote FOR this proposal.
Therefore, please vote FOR item #10, a reasonable (and quite necessary) good-governance proposal that brings a sane perspective to issues concerning shareholders.