Director Compensation Update

I’ve written a number of articles and blogs about some sticky issues that can surface in the context of setting pay for public company non-employee directors (here, here, here, and here).

On March 6th the parties to the In re Investors Bancorp, Inc. Stockholder Litigation, filed a settlement agreement with the Delaware Chancery Court.  By way of background, the Investors Bancorp decision limited the shareholder ratification defense for non-employee director equity awards that were granted on a discretionary basis. The equity plan at issue in In re Investors Bancorp, which had been approved by the company’s shareholders, provided that the maximum number of shares that could be delivered to all non-employee directors, in the aggregate, would be capped at 30% of all option or restricted stock unit or restricted stock awards available for grant under the plan.  Read More ›

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Certain Information Statements for ISOs and ESPPs Due by January 31, 2019

As reported in Part 4 of our 2018 End of Year Plan Sponsor “To Do” List, Section 6039 of the Code requires employers to provide a written information statement to each employee or former employee and file information returns with the IRS regarding: (1) the transfer of stock pursuant to the exercise of an Incentive Stock Option (“ISO”); and (2) the first transfer by the employee or former employee of stock purchased at a discount under an Employee Stock Purchase Plan (“ESPP”).  For ISO exercises and ESPP transfers occurring in 2018, the Section 6039 employee information statement requirement is satisfied by providing Form 3921 (for ISOs) and Form 3922 (for ESPPs) to employees no later than January 31, 2019Read More ›

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IRS Updates Retirement Plan Correction Procedures

On September 28, 2018, the IRS released Revenue Procedure 2018-52. The Revenue Procedure makes changes to the IRS Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (“EPCRS”), which is the IRS’ comprehensive correction program for qualified retirement plans.  The primary purpose of the Revenue Procedure is establishing the process for filing correction applications and paying the applicable user fee through the www.pay.gov website.

Beginning April 1, 2019, the IRS will no longer accept paper applications meaning that plan sponsors are required to use pay.gov to submit their application and pay their user fees.  During a transition period running from January 1 – March 31, 2019, plan sponsors may, but are not required to, file their EPCRS applications online. Read More ›

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Settlement of Solak v. Barrett May Provide Additional Guidance on Setting Director Pay

I’ve stressed how important it is for public company executives and directors to stay apprised of developments in the director pay area, including developments/settlements of director pay lawsuits.  Earlier this summer, the Delaware Chancery court approved a settlement of Solak v. Barrett, a case in which the plaintiffs alleged that the directors of Clovis Oncology breached their fiduciary duties by adopting a compensation plan that overcompensated themselves, in relation to companies of comparable market capitalization and size. In their complaint, the plaintiffs cited as evidence, the fact that the non-employee directors of Clovis each had been paid an average of $429,163 annually between 2012 and 2016, while Fortune 50 companies pay their directors a median total of $281,667 a year and S&P 500 companies pay an average $277,237 a year.  Read More ›

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Yet Another Reason to Focus on Director Pay

We have previously encouraged our readers to focus on the size of their director pay packages and the processes their boards undertake in setting director compensation.  Prior focus on these issues was recommended largely as a way to mitigate the risk of litigation for excessive pay.  In their current U.S. Compensation Policies FAQ, Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (“ISS”) has given boards yet another reason to focus on director compensation. In the FAQ, ISS indicates the following:

  • In evaluating non-employee director pay, ISS will look for “reasonable practices” that “adequately align the interests of directors to those of shareholders.”
  • A director pay program should incorporate “meaningful” stock ownership and/or holding requirements.
Read More ›
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Short-Term Deferral Day is Right Around the Corner

Section 409A, the provision of the Internal Revenue Code that regulates the time and form of payment of nonqualified deferred compensation, contains a helpful exception for “short-term deferrals.”  Specifically, Section 409A provides that a payment will not be considered nonqualified deferred compensation if the employer makes the payment on or prior to the 15th day of the third month following the end of the employee’s (or, if later, the employer’s) taxable year in which the employee’s right to the payment vests.  For individuals and for employers with calendar fiscal years, the key date for purposes of the short-term deferral exception is March 15th (a little less than two weeks from today). Read More ›

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Certain Information Statements for ISOs and ESPPs Due by January 31, 2018

As reported in Part 3 of our 2016 End of Year Plan Sponsor “To Do” List, Section 6039 of the Code requires employers to provide a written information statement to each employee or former employee and file information returns with the IRS regarding: (1) the transfer of stock pursuant to the exercise of an Incentive Stock Option (“ISO”); and (2) the first transfer by the employee or former employee of stock purchased at a discount under an Employee Stock Purchase Plan (“ESPP”).  For ISO exercises and ESPP transfers occurring in 2017, the Section 6039 employee information statement requirement is satisfied by providing Form 3921 (for ISOs) and Form 3922 (for ESPPs) to employees no later than January 31, 2018 Read More ›

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Reminder that Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Deferral Elections for 2018 Must be Made on or Before December 31, 2017

As we approach the end of 2017, we want to remind employers and employees to take action before year end if they desire to defer compensation that will be earned during 2018.  As a general rule, Section 409A of the Internal Revenue Code requires that compensation deferrals under a nonqualified deferred compensation plan be made before the year in which the underlying services are performed. There are some exceptions to this general rule, but Section 409A imposes strict requirements on the timing of compensation deferral elections and that most deferrals of compensation that will be earned in 2018 must be made on or before December 31, 2017. Read More ›

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Say on Pay Failure Results 2017

Of the 7% of Russell 3000 companies that received “against” vote recommendations from ISS on their say on pay proposals this 2017 proxy season, some of the cited reasons for the negative vote recommendations from ISS consisted of the following:

  • Pay for failure (i.e., pay for performance disconnect).
  • Lack of rigorous performance goals.
  • A substantial portion of granted equity awards were not performance-based.
  • Presence of an ISS “problematic pay practice” including:
    • Abnormally large bonus payments without proper link to performance.
    • Change in control payments exceed 3 times base salary/target bonus.
    • Single trigger change in control or severance payments.

A full list of the ISS “problematic pay practices” can be found here. Read More ›

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Fiduciary Rule to Go Into Effect but DOL Provides Temporary Non-Enforcement Policy

As reported in our April 18th blog, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) officially delayed the applicability of the Fiduciary Rule for 60 days, until June 9, 2017.  Given the multiple delays leading up to the proposed June 9th date and President Trump’s February 3rd executive memorandum calling for a full examination of the impact of the Fiduciary Rule, some questioned whether the Rule would be further delayed.  However, on Monday, DOL Secretary Alexander Acosta wrote the DOL has “found no principled legal basis to change the June 9 date while we seek public input” and “[r]espect for the rule of law leads us to the conclusion that this date cannot be postponed.”  

Although the new definition of the term “fiduciary” will become applicable on June 9th, certain provisions of the Rule will be phased in over time, with a full compliance date scheduled for January 1, 2018.  Read More ›

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