Wal-Mart jamboree missing one thing - a vote count

Agenda-Setting Financial Insight.
June 1 2012 3:07 PM

Wal-Mart Jamboree Missing One Thing - A Vote Count

After drawing scrutiny in April when TheNew York Timesexposed a multi-year bribery scandal in Mexico, Wal-Mart hosted an elabortae shareholder meeting for the re-election of its board.

Photo by YURI CORTEZ/AFP/GettyImages

Wal-Mart pulled out all the stops for its shareholder meeting on Friday. Justin Timberlake emceed at the event, which also doubled as a golden jubilee celebration. Lionel Richie had the arena-sized audience on its feet with “All Night Long” and Celine Dion closed down the party just in time for lunch. It’s a shame the mega-retailer’s organizational skills don’t extend to the basics, like providing more timely color on the controversial re-election of its board. 

The 15 directors are under fire for their handling of a multi-year bribery scandal in Mexico that the New York Times brought to light in April. If the allegations prove to be true, the firm could face more serious charges as it may have violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. 
Yet the only information Chairman Robson Walton gave about the outcome of the vote was that a majority of shareholders had voted to re-elect everyone on the board. But that was pretty much a foregone conclusion: the Walton family controls about half of the company’s 3.4 billion shares. 

It’s how the rest of the investors voted that counts in this case. While they cannot force any changes on Wal-Mart, a strong protest vote would be hard to ignore. Now they have to wait till next week to find out the score. 

That’s baffling. Many large firms manage to tot up the provisional yeas and nays by the end of the shareholders meeting. After all, most institutional and many smaller investors post or email their votes ahead of time. 

A company that can pull off an arena-sized extravaganza worthy of a Super Bowl half-time show ought to be able to manage this small feat. A quick turnaround on the vote is a pretty simple practice that the likes of Exxon and JPMorgan, both of which faced some potentially embarrassing votes of their own, manage to pull off every year. Given the seriousness of the charges and the high-profile nature of the protest, Wal-Mart could have made a meaningful gesture to minority stakeholders by following suit. Then again, it’s the Waltons’ call. And there is little sign of that changing any time soon.

Read more at Reuters Breakingviews.

Agnes T. Crane is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist, based in New York, where she covers capital markets and Latin America. She joined from Dow Jones Newswires, where she was an award-winning journalist who led a team of reporters covering the credit crisis.


Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

There Are New Abuse Allegations Against Adrian Peterson

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

John Oliver Pleads for Scotland to Stay With the U.K.

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter


Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison

In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 

The Juice

Ford’s Big Gamble

It’s completely transforming America’s best-selling vehicle.

I Tried to Write an Honest Profile of One of Bollywood’s Biggest Stars. It Didn’t Go Well.

Here’s Why College Women Don’t Take Rape Allegations to the Police

The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 1:51 PM Here’s Why College Women Don’t Take Rape Allegations to the Police
  News & Politics
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
Sept. 15 2014 4:38 PM What Is Straight Ice Cream?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
Future Tense
Sept. 15 2014 4:49 PM Cheetah Robot Is Now Wireless and Gallivanting on MIT’s Campus
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 15 2014 11:00 AM The Comet and the Cosmic Beehive
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.