How did Walmart’s leaders respond to the myriad employees, investors, and proxy advisors urging the company to strengthen corporate governance standards by establishing an independent board chairman? Why, by entrenching Walton control of the company, of course, appointing director Greg Penner as the board’s vice chair and setting him up to succeed his father-in-law Rob Walton as chairman of the company.
From the Wall Street Journal:
Tucked away in Walmart’s recent proxy statement, under the heading “Recent Governance Enhancements – Shareholder Rights,” is this fun tidbit: “Shareholders holding 10% or more of the company’s common stock may request special shareholders’ meetings.”
For the second year in a row, Walmart shareholders will consider a resolution calling for the establishment of an independent chairman for the company’s board of directors. While investors have long expressed concern about the company’s failures in corporate governance and internal controls, that concern became more acute starting in 2012 after the New York Times published Pulitzer-winning expose detailing an (alleged) systematic campaign of bribery at Walmex, plus an executive-led campaign to cover it up.
Two weeks ago, Marketplace reported that Walmart is the biggest beneficiary of SNAP, the taxpayer-funded food stamp program. Not only does it rake in the largest share of food stamps of any retailer, but because of the notoriously meager wages it pays store associates, the company is believed to have the most employees who qualify for food stamps.
More takeaways from last week’s analyst shindig:
Today, Forbes released its annual list of the 400 richest Americans. Not only can the Waltons still count themselves as the richest family in America, but their net worth rose 25% in the last six months. The six Waltons on the list—Christy, Alice, Jim, Rob, Ann, and Nancy—are worth a combined $144.7 billion, up $29 billion from the last Forbes tally in March. It’s as if the richest Waltons found a long-lost, equally affluent sibling.
Over the weekend, Salinas Valley community supporters joined Walmart workers at a demonstration in front of the Laguna Seca Raceway in California during the annual Monterey Motorsports Reunion. The demonstration took place while Walmart Board Chair, and heir to the Walton family fortune, Rob Walton raced two of his multimillion dollar racecars worth more than $16 million. The purpose of the protest was to bring attention to the disturbing fact as well as the reality that Rob Walton and his familyengage in lavish and expensive hobbies while the family increases its wealth by pushing certain Walmart worker costs onto taxpayers.