This excerpt taken from the S DEF 14A filed Mar 30, 2009.
As long-term shareholders of Sprint Nextel , we support transparency and accountability in corporate spending on political activities. These activities include direct and indirect political contributions to candidates, political parties or political organizations; independent expenditures; or electioneering communications on behalf of a federal, state or local candidate.
Disclosure is consistent with public policy and in the best interest of the company and its shareholders. Absent a system of accountability, company assets can be used for policy objectives that may be inimical to the long-term interests of and may pose risks to the company and its shareholders.
Sprint Nextel contributed at least $1.4 million in corporate funds since the 2002 election cycle. (CQs PoliticalMoneyLine: http://moneyline.cq.com/pml/home.do and the National Institute on Money in State Politics: http://www.followthemoney.org/index.phtml).
However, relying on publicly available data does not provide a complete picture of the Companys political expenditures. For example, the Companys payments to trade associations used for political activities are undisclosed and unknown. In many cases, even management does not know how trade associations use their companys money politically. The proposal asks the Company to disclose all of its political contributions, including payments to trade associations and other tax exempt organizations. This would bring our Company in line with a growing number of leading companies, including Pfizer, Aetna, and American Electric Power that support political disclosure and accountability and present this information on their websites.
The Companys Board and its shareholders need complete disclosure to be able to fully evaluate the political use of corporate assets. We urge your support for this critical governance reform.
This excerpt taken from the S DEF 14A filed Apr 9, 2007.
In our view, senior executive compensation at Sprint, prior to the merger with Nextel, has not always been structured in ways that best serve shareholders interests. When CEO Gary Forsee was hired in 2003, the golden hello package of restricted stock units and guaranteed bonus was valued at over $14 million. Former CEO William Esrey, forced to resign that year as a result of a tax shelter scandal, was retained as a consultant for ten years; this agreement had a total value of $3,250,000 and was paid on top of a severance package valued at over $4 million.
We believe that existing U.S. corporate governance arrangements, including SEC rules and stock exchange listing standards, do not provide shareholders with enough mechanisms for providing input to boards on senior executive compensation. In contrast to U.S. practices, in the United Kingdom, public companies allow shareholders to cast an advisory vote on the directors remuneration report, which discloses executive compensation. Such a vote isnt binding, but gives shareholders a clear voice that could help shape senior executive compensation.
Currently U.S. stock exchange listing standards require shareholder approval of equity-based compensation plans; those plans, however, set general parameters and accord the compensation committee substantial discretion in making awards and establishing performance thresholds for a particular year. Shareholders do not have any mechanism for providing ongoing feedback on the application of those general standards to individual pay packages. (See Lucian Bebchuk & Jesse Fried, Pay Without Performance 49 (2004)).
Similarly, performance criteria submitted for shareholder approval to allow a company to deduct compensation in excess of $1 million are broad and do not constrain compensation committees in setting performance targets for particular senior executives. Withholding votes from compensation committee members who are standing for reelection is a blunt and insufficient instrument for registering dissatisfaction with the way in which the committee has administered compensation plans and policies in the previous year.
Accordingly, we urge Sprints board to allow shareholders to express their opinion about senior executive compensation at Sprint by establishing an annual referendum process. The results of such a vote would, we think, provide Sprint with useful information about whether shareholders view the companys senior executive compensation, as reported each year, to be in shareholders best interests.
We urge shareholders to vote for this proposal.
This excerpt taken from the S DEF 14A filed Mar 17, 2006.
Cumulative voting means that each shareholder may cast as many votes as equal the number of shares held, multiplied by the number of directors to be elected. Each shareholder may cast all such cumulated votes for a single candidate or split votes between one or more candidates, as each shareholder sees fit.
We believe that cumulative voting increases the possibility of electing at least one director with a viewpoint independent of management. In our opinion, this will help achieve the objective of the board representing all shareholders.
We urge our fellow shareholders to vote yes for cumulative voting and the opportunity to enhance our Board with a more independent perspective.