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Document Type

Article

Publication Date

12-15-2016

Publication Citation

92 Indiana Law Journal 227 (2016)

Abstract

Corporate directors committed to a failed business strategy or unduly influenced by the company’s debtholders need a dissenting voice—they need shareholder nominees on the board. This Article examines the biases, conflicts, and external factors that impact board decisions, particularly when a company faces financial distress. It challenges the conventional wisdom that debt disciplines management, and it sug-gests that, in certain circumstances, the company would benefit from having the shareholders’ perspective more actively represented on the board. To that end, the Article proposes a bylaw that would give shareholders the ability to nominate direc-tors upon the occurrence of predefined events. Such targeted proxy access would incentivize boards to manage difficult operational and financial situations more pro-actively, while creating a reasonable oversight mechanism for shareholders if those efforts fail. Moreover, the urgency of a company’s situation when a targeted proxy access provision is triggered may warrant more lenient shareholder eligibility re-quirements, thereby more readily introducing the shareholders’ perspective into dis-tressed situations. These refinements to traditional proxy access methodology also could benefit companies considering or adopting general proxy access. Neverthe-less, the Article suggests that targeted proxy access is a more tailored solution that mitigates many of the concerns articulated in the proxy access debate and provides a better balance between management autonomy and accountability.