NEW YORK (
Whole Foods Market
investors are awaiting the decision of a vote today that will make it easier for shareholders to force out directors.
If passed, the proposal -- submitted by
shareholder-activist program LongView Funds -- would negate a bylaw change Whole Food's directors put in place following a Securities & Exchange Commission investigation Chairman and Chief Executive John Mackey in April 2008.
At the time the board voted without any advance notice to shareholders to allow shareholders to remove directors only when there was cause. But "cause" was only loosely defined as a criminal indictment or legal finding that the director had violated their duties to the company.
The new proposal, which seeks a bylaw change to permit shareholders to remove a director either "with or without cause," will be voted on at the company's annual meeting in Vancouver today.
The SEC investigated Mackey's anonymous comments on a financial chat forum from where he praised Whole Foods' and criticized rival
Wild Oats Markets
. Whole Foods later purchased Wild Oats. The SEC did not take action against Whole Foods or Mackey.
-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.
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