David Winters: Coca-Cola Lacks Shareholder Mandate for Equity PlanVW Staff
Shareholders in The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO) delivered a clear message at yesterday’s annual meeting that they do not support Coca-Cola's 2014 equity plan.
The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO)’s certified ballot results, filed with the SEC late yesterday, show that fewer than half of Coca-Cola’s total outstanding shares (2.19 billion out of 4.40 billion) were voted in favor of the 2014 equity plan. By contrast, 66% of the total outstanding shares were voted in favor of Coca-Cola's previous plan.
David Winters, CEO of Wintergreen Advisers, said “Coca-Cola’s plan failed to attract support from a majority of shareholders, including its largest shareholder,Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B). Wintergreen believes that no company should implement an equity plan without the support of a majority of its shareholders, least of all a great company like Coca-Cola. It is clear to us that Coca-Cola failed to earn a shareholder mandate to fully implement the 2014 equity plan and we call on Coca-Cola's Board of Directors to withdraw or scale back the plan. According to SEC filings, Coca-Cola had more than 66 million shares available for issuance under existing equity plans as of February 20th, which we believe would allow it to continue to issue stock awards while developing a more shareholder friendly plan.”