TOKYO (Reuters) – Voting advisor Glass Lewis has urged SoftBank Group Corp shareholders to oppose the election of corporate attorney Ken Siegel to the board because of his professional ties to the Japanese conglomerate.
The objection is one of several recommendations to SoftBank shareholders prior to the group’s annual general meeting on June 23, at which both Glass Lewis and peer Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) oppose the auditor election due to independence concerns.
Siegel is a managing partner in the Tokyo office of law firm Morrison & Foerster and has been involved in some of SoftBank’s largest transactions, including the $ 40 billion sale of chip company Arm to Nvidia Corp.
“We question the need for the company and its directors to obtain legal services. We regard such relationships as conflicting directors, ”wrote Glass Lewis on a proxy.
SoftBank and Siegel did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
The recommendations stem from investor concerns about the independence of SoftBank’s board members and their willingness to question decisions made by founder and chief executive Masayoshi Son.
SoftBank reported a record year-end profit for the year ended March as portfolio valuations rebounded, adding to concerns about less pressure on Son to listen to outside views.
Both proxy advisors support the election of the group’s other proposed independent director, seasoned gaming manager Keiko Erikawa https://www.reuters.com/business/son-chan-invites-veteran-stock-picker-softbank-board-2021- 05-22, who will be the only woman on the board to replace Waseda University’s economics professor Yuko Kawamoto.
The proposed board changes https://www.reuters.com/business/finance/softbank-nominates-koei-gaming-exec-board-2021-05-21 will increase the number of external directors from four to five.
(Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Christopher Cushing)
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