Apple released shareholder vote totals Thursday in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) called 8-K. Those totals show that shareholders overwhelmingly approved reappointing the current board of directors, and that the votes on the two shareholder proposals on the ballot weren’t anywhere near to being close.
Under the rules in place when the votes were cast (see below), shareholders were given the chance to vote for a board member or abstain, a system that all but insures that the company’s slate of candidates are insured, especially with the requirement that they receives only a plurality of the vote, not a majority.
In the table below, you can see that every board member received at least 563 million vote, and all but one (Andrea Jung) saw less than 10 million abstentions. Steve Jobs got the most “For” votes, at 570.9 million votes, for those looking for minutiae.
Board Member Vote Totals
William V. Campbell
Millard S. Drexler
Albert A. Gore, Jr.
Steven P. Jobs
Arthur D. Levinson
Ronald D. Sugar
Electing the Board
Proposal 6, as we’ve covered in more depth, would change the way board members are elected. Under the proposal, which passed, each board member must receive a majority of votes to get or keep their job. Technically, it’s a “For” vote from a majority of shareholders represented in the quorum needed to convene the meeting in the first place, but that’s all but a technically due to proxy voting.
We reported on Wednesday that this proposal had passed, but Apple’s vote total showed that the vote wasn’t close. 422,451,638 votes were cast in favor of the proposal, while 151,538,447 voted against it. 1.74 million votes abstained.
Apple had officially resisted the measure, asking shareholders to vote against the proposal, making the wide passage a little surprising. It should be noted, however, that the point of measure was not an effort to throw out board members of one of the most successful companies on the planet, but rather to add transparency to Apple’s corporate governance, a message that apparently got through to shareholders.
The Succession Plan Vote
In almost diametric opposition to the support of Proposal 6, shareholders overwhelmingly rejected Proposal 5, which would have required Apple to make public its succession plan for the company’s CEO position.
Pushed by the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), whose members own more than a million shares of AAPL in its pension fund, this proposal was also backed by Institutional Shareholder Services, a few analysts, and other parties interested corporate governance.
It was opposed by Apple on the grounds that revealing the company’s plans for succession would be disruptive to the company’s executive ranks and offer competitors an unfair advantage over the company. Unlike Proposal 6, however, shareholders toed Apple’s line and rejected the proposal in almost the same percentages that it embraced the change in board election rules.
400,056,649 votes were cast against the proposal, while 172,259,195 votes were case in favor of it. 3.4 million votes abstained.
*In the interest of full disclosure, the author holds a small share in AAPL stock that was not an influence in the creation of this article.