Netflix investors back proxy access for second year

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The Netflix logo is shown in this illustration photograph in Encinitas, California October 14, 2014.  REUTERS/Mike Blake
The Netflix logo is shown in this illustration photograph in Encinitas, California October 14, 2014.

Reuters/Mike Blake

Netflix Inc shareholders approved a proposal for the second year in a row calling on the streaming-video provider to grant investors so-called “proxy access” rights to run director candidates, prompting a call on Monday for the company to implement the reform.

Netflix has been a rare company to hold out against the change, which would make it easier for groups of investors owning as little as three percent of company shares for three years to run their own candidates for company board seats.

Netflix representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The non-binding ballot item received 215.8 million votes, or 72 percent of shares voted at the company’s annual meeting on June 9, according to a securing filing on Friday, a level of support close to what a similar resolution received a year ago.

Both resolutions were sponsored by the office of New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, which oversees pension funds.

In an e-mailed statement on Monday Stringer said the results show that “Netflix share owners want a meaningful voice in the boardroom but its board remains hell-bent on keeping them out…The onus is now on Netflix to demonstrate that it is accountable by quickly engaging with share owners and implementing meaningful proxy access.”

Through similar efforts Stringer has convinced scores of other companies to adopt proxy access rights, seen as a way to make boards more accountable.

Skeptics worry the rules could empower disruptive activists. Netflix’s board raised that argument in its opposition to the proposal, stating in its proxy filing in April that such a change could lead to “the short-term or special-interest focus of directors elected through proxy access.”

(Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Andrew Hay)