Corporate Defense and Disputes

Important developments in U.S. securities law, white collar criminal defense, regulatory enforcement and other emerging issues impacting financial services institutions, publicly traded companies and private investment funds

Tag Archives: ESG

SEC Division of Examinations Announces 2022 Examination Priorities

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Examinations recently announced its examination priorities for fiscal year 2022: Private Funds; Environmental, Social, and Governance (“ESG”) Investing; Standards of Conduct; Information Security and Operational Resiliency; and Emerging Technologies and Crypto-Assets.  The Division seeks to provide investors and registrants with transparency into these areas, and that it expects registrants to … Continue Reading

Court Invalidates California Board-Diversity Statute

A California court invalidated a state law requiring that boards of directors of public companies based in California include members from under-represented groups, including persons of several races and ethnic groups and those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.  The April 1, 2022 decision in Crest v. Padilla, No. 20ST-CV-37513, by Judge Terry Green of … Continue Reading

SEC Proposes Broad New Climate Change Disclosure Requirements

Last week, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission proposed a set of sweeping new rules requiring public companies to disclose climate-related risks in their registration statements and periodic reports.  Under the proposed rules, public companies would have to disclose the actual and potential impacts of climate change on their business, management and governance processes to … Continue Reading

Pay Versus Performance Takes Center Stage

In an era where TikTok stars outearn scores of CEOs of top earning publicly traded companies, executive compensation is no less important to the investing public or to companies striving to attract and retain top talent. Indeed, just this year the CEO of Starbucks received a 39% pay increase. Such soaring executive compensation has not … Continue Reading

Key Takeaways from Recent Court Rulings on Corporate Board Oversight

Corporate boards are subject to a duty of oversight, as part of their duty of loyalty to their company. As outlined by Delaware’s famously stringent Caremark standard, pleading a violation of that duty is often difficult. However, the Delaware Court of Chancery has issued several recent opinions addressing duty of oversight claims where they held the … Continue Reading

ESG Status Quo Persists For Now, Gensler Signals Rulemaking Forthcoming

The SEC’s Climate and ESG Task Force has been criticized by Republican commissioners who believe enforcement in the area would be premature. But Kelly L. Gibson, acting deputy director of the enforcement and head of the agency-wide ESG Task Force, stated that the task force is necessary to recognize evolving investor priorities and that it will … Continue Reading

Polarizing Panel Suggests No Easy Road to Final ESG Regulatory Scheme

While the SEC staff tends to be of the broad view that ESG warrants serious consideration, there are a breadth of different opinions regarding what ultimate disclosure requirements should look like.  This discord came to a head during a virtual SEC panel last Friday. The panelists included both SEC staff and industry leaders.  One-by-one, the … Continue Reading

U.S. Climate Finance Summit: Regulators Call for ESG Disclosures; Investors Demand Them

On February 18, 2021, the Institute of International Finance (“IFF”) hosted the U.S. Climate Finance Summit, at which both John Coates, Acting Director of the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance, and Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard made statements in favor of companies providing fulsome ESG disclosures.  These pronouncements underscore the Summit’s larger goal of supporting … Continue Reading

The “ABC’s” of ESG

In 2020, trillions of dollars flooded ESG funds, and many analysts are expecting this trend to continue in 2021. BlackRock, the largest asset manager in the world, plans to have $1.2 trillion in ESG assets in the next 10 years, and an estimated one-third of all U.S. assets under management are already sustainably invested.  Given the … Continue Reading

ESG on the Books: NASDAQ Proposed Rules Require Board Diversity

In December, the NASDAQ proposed new listing rules that—if implemented—would require companies to (i) disclose information about the diversity of their directors on an annual basis and (ii) have at least two diverse directors, or else provide an explanation why they do not. By “diverse directors,” the rules contemplate “one [director] who self-identifies as female … Continue Reading

Shining a Spotlight on ESG Disclosures in the Biden Administration

In a period where almost nothing seems certain, it is inevitable that ESG issues will be on the front of the incoming SEC Chair’s mind. Jay Clayton, who resigned as SEC Chairman in December 2020, has urged that one-size-fits-all metrics for environmental disclosures aren’t appropriate given the varied impacts of climate change on different industries. … Continue Reading
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