The US financial watchdog has denied Apple its bid to block three activist shareholder proposals calling for the tech giant to explain allegations of forced labour in its supply chain, its use of non-disclosure agreements, and the deletion of some apps from the App Store in China.
Now that the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has rejected Apple’s petition, the company will face a vote on each of the resolutions at its AGM next year – unless it makes a deal with the activist investors in the meantime.
It comes after Apple filed a response to the shareholder proposals with the SEC in October, saying it wanted to exclude them from its AGM because “the company’s policy is to not use such clauses.”
Arguing that it had already “substantially implemented” what the shareholders were requesting, the FT reported at the time that Apple asked the SEC for permission to block six shareholder petitions – the highest amount it had received since 2017.
Beyond the three proposals rejected this week, a further one was rejected, and the SEC is yet to make a decision on the remaining two.
In its rejection letter this week, the FT reported that the SEC said Apple had not “substantially implemented the proposal.”
It’s a significant victory for the activists, as large companies often ask the SEC for permission to exclude shareholder proposals, and the watchdog grants around half of the requests it receives.