Category Archives: Views

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Own the pay-for-performance narrative

A board’s best defence in the say-on-pay era? Conduct an independent pay-for-performance assessment, then communicate it to your shareholders
By Ken Hugessen
With Lisa Oldridge
October 30th, 2014

Shareholders are interested in ensuring compensation is aligned with performance, and they use say-on-pay votes and director elections to express concerns where this is not seen to be the case. Unfortunately, many issuers fail to provide compelling evidence of a … Continue reading

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Competition: the greatest external risk

Obtaining a deep, objective understanding of competitors’ strengths and weaknesses—analyzing everything from their current strategies to ability to execute—is fundamental to assessing risk and driving your own performance
By John Caldwell
October 30th, 2014

Excluding self-inflicted exposures, competition is usually an enterprise’s greatest threat. Yet, ironically, management and board rigour around competitive analysis is often perfunctory at best. Quarterly board packages frequently contain cursory information on competitor activities. Even most strategic plans fall woefully … Continue reading

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Business with purpose

Pending the results of an Industry Canada review, benefit corporations—for-profit businesses using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems—could soon be legally entrenched
By Sandra Odendahl
October 30th, 2014

Last December, when the federal government launched a review of the Canada Business Corporations Act (CBCA), topics like shareholder rights and executive compensation grabbed much of the spotlight. But among potential changes that might have the biggest lasting impact, consider … Continue reading

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Spare the paper, boost the engagement

Notice and access is making slow progress in Canada since it was approved in 2013. But wherever it’s applied, shareholders show they are ready for new channels for proxy communication
By Chaya Cooperberg
October 30th, 2014

In a recent conversation with four other investor relations officers, each representing a sizeable Canadian public company, the topic of notice and access came up. Of the five of us, only two were early adopters of the process introduced in … Continue reading

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Insiders dish on deadwood directors

Not every board wants to hear it, but the message from the market, shareholders and savvy insiders is clear: renew your directors or others will do it for you
By Richard Leblanc
August 27th, 2014

Board composition is one of the most critical issues for companies and their shareholders today. This top-10 list of recommended practices—backed by candid commentary—is based on 40 recent director and executive interviews and ongoing advice and assessment provided to activist … Continue reading

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Gearing up for an analyst day

There are many good reasons to hold an analyst day, and just as many not to. Here are some signs that your company may be ready—and some tested advice on making it a success
By Chaya Cooperberg
August 27th, 2014

After more than a half-dozen years leading investor relations at a large-cap industrials company based in Toronto, I finally recommended to our executive team last year that we hold the company’s first analyst and investor day this past spring. Why … Continue reading

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Aboriginal business: open for partnerships

Increasing participation by conventional lenders and a range of innovative government funding programs are helping aboriginal businesses in Canada gain traction. But challenges remain
By Robert Olsen
With Romit Malhotra
August 27th, 2014

There is a noticeable increase in the amount of discussion taking place around aboriginal matters in Canadian business circles. These tend to revolve around aboriginal communities’ stake in resource development and pipeline projects, the significant wealth and land transfer projected … Continue reading

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Shareholder proposals reflect evolving concerns

The frequency of shareholder proposals and their levels of support are gradually gaining steam in Canada. Directors are wise to pay heed. If your board isn’t a target today, it might be tomorrow
By Ken Hugessen
With Michelle Tan
August 27th, 2014

Directors and executives are increasingly aware of the trend towards increasing engagement with shareholders. It runs the spectrum from relatively civilized dialogue behind closed doors to fractious proxy contests. Somewhere in between is a third form of engagement: shareholder proposals. … Continue reading

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Talent gaps: a significant organizational risk

Companies often complain they can’t hire enough good people for important roles. More than frustrating, it’s a business risk that boards can and should address
By John Caldwell
August 27th, 2014

Two years ago in this column, I asserted that because the chief executive officer position carries with it the most critical and broadest responsibilities in the corporation, an ineffective CEO poses one of the greatest risks to the enterprise. But … Continue reading

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Beyond the carbon bubble

Responsible investors and activists sounding the “unburnable carbon” alarm might do better to focus on energy companies’ responses to the risk of slowing demand for fossil fuels
By Sandra Odendahl
With Peter MacConnachie
June 5th, 2014

If you don’t already know what a stranded carbon asset is, you soon will. Stranded carbon assets, “unburnable carbon” and the “carbon bubble” are part of an emerging framework for looking at energy, climate change and investment. First outlined in … Continue reading

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LNG market ours to grab—for now

A big, critical, long-term economic opportunity awaits Canadian gas producers in offshore exports of liquefied natural gas. But we’ll miss the window without some immediate action and political will
By Robert Olsen
With Racim Gribaa
June 5th, 2014

Water everywhere and in great abundance, but not a drop to drink. It’s a haunting image—being stranded in an ocean, throat burning with thirst, and unable to harness the limitless supply of water an arm’s reach away. And it’s a … Continue reading

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Where governance is going

A small suite of new rules, relationships and areas of oversight are driving most of the upheaval and change in corporate governance today. Here’s what to expect next
By Richard Leblanc
April 21st, 2014

It’s easy to get caught up in the dramatic details of board and company situations when issues and conflicts come to a boil. But the best way to learn from these events is to explore the underlying governance trends that … Continue reading

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Make room, and make ready

Directors need to acknowledge the increasingly active role of shareholders and their advisers in executive compensation decision making—and then engage shareholders directly to hold sway over the agenda
By Ken Hugessen
April 21st, 2014

Today, it would be hard for a director of a mid-size or large public issuer to miss the increasing involvement of shareholders and proxy advisers (e.g. ISS and Glass Lewis) when dealing with executive and director pay and related performance … Continue reading

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Taking the measure of your IR team

Though it’s tempting to do so, boards and management shouldn’t look at company share price to evaluate the performance of their IR department. There are many more accurate indicators to choose
By Chaya Cooperberg
April 21st, 2014

In many companies, the fiscal year typically kicks off with exercises in goal setting, as employees commit to objectives in hope of recognition and reward come review time. For investor relations professionals, working within the dynamic and often volatile environment … Continue reading

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Traffic gridlock and the bottom line

Location selection, expansion decisions, costs to business—it all goes under the microscope when regional transportation falters. In Ontario, and across the country, 2014 could be a make-or-break year on the issue
By Robert Olsen
With Michael Cautillo
April 21st, 2014

Over the past 12 years, the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area population has increased by 1.2 million to about 6.5 million people and over the next 20 years it will again increase to about 8.4 million. Yet even as the … Continue reading

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