This excerpt taken from the VRSN DEF 14A filed Jul 27, 2007.
APPROVAL OF THE FOURTH AMENDED AND RESTATED CERTIFICATE OF INCORPORATION TO ELIMINATE VERISIGNS CLASSIFIED BOARD STRUCTURE AND PROVIDE FOR THE ANNUAL ELECTION OF DIRECTORS
We are asking stockholders to approve the Fourth Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation that will amend and restate certain provisions of our existing Third Amended and Restated Certificate of Incorporation, as amended (the Third Restated Certificate) in order to phase out the classification of the terms of our directors and to provide instead for the annual election of our directors (the Fourth Restated Certificate). Under the current classified board structure, our Board of Directors is divided into three classes, with each class serving three-year terms. If the Amendment is approved, commencing with the 2007 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, our directors will be elected to one-year terms of office after the current terms of the directors of each class expire at the 2007, 2008 and 2009 Annual Meetings of Stockholders. The Fourth Restated Certificate is attached as Appendix A.
The Fourth Restated Certificate is the product of our Board of Directors review of our corporate governance matters. The Board of Directors considered the advantages and disadvantages of maintaining a classified board structure, which was previously adopted by the Board of Directors and VeriSigns stockholders. Earlier this year, after completing its review, the Board of Directors approved the phase out of the classified board structure, subject to the approval of the stockholders.
In determining whether the phase out of the classified board structure is in the best interests of VeriSigns stockholders, the Board of Directors carefully considered arguments for maintaining, as well as for eliminating, the classified board structure. Several arguments support retention of a classified board structure. For instance, the overlapping three-year terms of directors promote continuity and stability of the Board of Directors by ensuring that, at any given time, two-thirds of the directors have at least one years experience on the Board of Directors. A directors experience is important because of the unique demands of managing VeriSign, including the need to understand the complex nature of VeriSigns business and the long-term business strategy. In addition, the Board of Directors believes that three-year terms strengthen director independence by lessening the threat that a director who refuses to act in conformity with the wishes of management (or other directors) will not be re-nominated for office. The classified board structure also reduces the likelihood of an unsolicited and disadvantageous takeover of control of VeriSign, which might cause our stockholders to receive less than an adequate price for their stock, because a potential acquirer cannot replace a majority of the directors at a single annual meeting. Since a potential acquirer cannot easily remove a majority of the directors in a classified board structure, the directors on such board may possess greater bargaining power to obtain the best price from a potential acquirer and are likely to have more time to search for superior alternatives.
The Board of Directors also considered the views of investors who believe that a classified board structure reduces the accountability of directors to stockholders because the directors do not face an annual election. Since director elections are the primary means by which the stockholders can affect corporate management, the classified board structure may diminish stockholder influence over a companys policy. Furthermore, the classified board structure may negatively affect stockholder value by discouraging proxy contests in which stockholders have an opportunity to vote for an entire slate of competing nominees.
After weighing all of these considerations, the Board of Directors agreed and determined that the phase out of the classified board structure is advisable and in the best interests of VeriSign and our stockholders. Accordingly, the Board of Directors has approved the Fourth Restated Certificate (which is marked to show the changes from the Third Restated Certificate and provided in Appendix A) and recommends that the stockholders approve the Fourth Restated Certificate by voting in favor of this proposal.
If this proposal is approved by our stockholders, Part A of Section Six of the Third Restated Certificate will be amended to phase out the classification of the terms of our directors and to provide for the annual election of our directors commencing with the class of directors standing for election at the 2007 Annual Meeting of Stockholders. To ensure a smooth transition to the new declassified structure of the Board of Directors, and to permit the current directors to serve out the three-year terms to which the stockholders elected the directors, the Fourth Restated Certificate will not shorten the term of any director elected before the 2007 Annual Meeting of Stockholders. The new procedures would, however, apply to all directors elected at or after the 2007 Annual Meeting of Stockholders, including any current directors who are re-nominated after their current terms expire. Thus, the Class III directors, would, if re-nominated, also stand for election at the 2008 Annual Meeting for only one-year terms with the current Class I directors, who were elected at the 2005 Annual Meeting of Stockholders for three-year terms, and would, if re-nominated, stand for election for only one-year terms. At the Annual Meeting of Stockholders in 2009, the Class II directors, would, if re-nominated, stand for election at the 2009 Annual Meeting of Stockholders for only one-year terms with the Class I and Class III directors.
Part B of Section Six of the Third Restated Certificate also currently provides that directors elected to fill vacancies on the Board of Directors serve the remainder of the terms of the class to which their predecessors were elected. Consistent with the proposed amendment to Part A of Section Six of the Third Restated Certificate that phases out the classified board structure, Part B of Section Six would be amended to provide that directors elected to fill vacancies on the Board of Directors serve for the term of office to which they are elected expires.
If the proposed Fourth Restated Certificate is approved at this meeting by the stockholders, the phase out of the classified structure of the Board of Directors will become effective upon the filing of the Fourth Restated Certificate with the Secretary of State of the State of Delaware. VeriSign intends to file the Fourth Restated Certificate as soon as practicable once stockholder approval is obtained. If the Fourth Restated Certificate is not approved, our structure of the Board of Directors will remain classified, and Class III directors elected at this meeting would have a three-year term.