FINALLY! After almost nine months of watching a depressing procession of 200-odd companies botch things, Intel Corporation yesterday showed that it groks the SEC’s new default electronic delivery process for e-proxy materials.
The technology giant is the first company using the new notice-and-access option that we’ve seen provide both an online annual report and a proxy statement in well-formed HTML. It is also the first company we’ve seen actually quantify the benefits of notice-and-access to the company, its shareholders, and the environment.
Every other company that has taken advantage of notice-and-access so far this year has failed to provide their online proxy materials in a format that is convenient for online reading, one of the requirements under the SEC’s e-proxy rules.
In easily 80% of cases, companies are posting their information in template-based documents from big vendors where the text is in images or Flash and so cannot be used in several fundamental ways.
Navigation in these cheap, mass-produced documents is also woefully inadequate, particularly for older users.
“The right thing to do”
But Intel will hopefully be the start of something. In a news release yesterday, the company said it will save about $2 million in printing and mailing costs, avoid about 4 million pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent, and prevent more than 13 million gallons of wastewater.
The company, which cut its print run from 4.2 million copies to 500K, yesterday began mailing notices telling shareholders how to access the proxy and annual report online.
If investors respond to the notices — and it’s a big if — they will find a proxy statement and annual report that most of them can actually read and use online. For those shareholders who give the new process a try, I’ll bet most will be happy to sign up for e-delivery and come back next year.
According to Doug Stewart, a senior attorney in Intel’s legal department who coordinates the company’s proxy statement, they followed the e-proxy rule discussions from the start and began planning their online documents after listening to a webinar I moderated for thecorporatecounsel.net last November.
Intel selected zu.com communications, one of the great online annual report designers we selected last year, to produce their online documents. Zu.com CEO Ryan Lejbak participated in the November webinar. For standardistas in the crowd, Intel’s docs are valid XHTML 1.0 Strict.
“We feel the process went smoothly and did not add much effort on our part,” said Intel’s Stewart in an email. “The SEC has given companies a tremendous opportunity to help the environment by using the web, and our team felt passionately that we needed to make the web experience as positive as we could to ensure they get the information they need to make informed voting decisions.”
Peter Schuman in Intel’s investor relations department adds that “it made good business sense all around to use e-proxy and felt like the right thing to do.”