“Apple Inc is pushing back on shareholder proposals on climate issue and human rights concerns, an effort activists worry could sharply restrict investor rights,” Ross Kerber reports for Reuters. “In letters to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission last month, an attorney for the California computer maker argued at least four shareholder proposals relate to ‘ordinary business’ and therefore can be left off the proxy Apple is expected to publish early next year, ahead of its annual meeting.”

“While companies routinely seek permission to skip shareholder proposals, Apple’s application of the new SEC guidance shows how it could be used to ignore many investor proposals by claiming boards routinely review those areas, said Sanford Lewis, a Massachusetts attorney representing Apple shareholders who had filed two of the resolutions,” Kerber reports. “Were the SEC to side with Apple, ‘this would be an incredibly dangerous precedent that would essentially say a great many proposals could be omitted,’ Lewis said.”

“Often seen as distractions in the past, shareholder measures have taken on new significance as big asset managers increasingly back those on areas like climate change or board diversity,” Kerber reports. “These include calls for Apple to take steps such as establishing a ‘human rights committee’ to address concerns on topics like censorship, and for Apple to report on its ability to cut greenhouse gas emissions.”

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MacDailyNews Take: If you don’t want to be beholden to shareholders, take the company private.