Google Shareholders Demand Equal Voting Rights

By Ben Charny  |  Posted 2006-04-12 Print this article Print

There's a move afoot to significantly reduce the number of votes that Google co-founders Sergey Brin, Larry Page, CEO Eric Schmidt and others get to cast at Google shareholder meetings, according to this stock filing.

If successful, the new voting scheme would significantly reduce the influence Google's top executives now have at the meetings, and inside the Google board room.

The changes sought by the Bricklayers & Trowel Trades International Pension Fund (information here) would mean holders of any kind of Google stock would get a single vote per share. That's how it's done at large firms like Raytheon, Readers Digest, Church & Dwight and Fairchild Semiconductor, according to material Google's distributing.

It's a different story at Google. Under the current setup, owners of Class A shares get a single vote per share at the shareholder meeting. But Class B stock owners, a category which includes Google's top executives, get a total of 10 votes per share.

The 1/10 rule puts a lot of voting power in the hands of a few. According to the pension fund, Schmidt, Page and Brin get to cast 66.2 percent of all the votes, although they together own just 31.3 percent of the stock.

The disproportionate voting rights arrangement "presents a significant danger to shareholders," the pension fund writes in materials Google began distributing April 12.

The proposal is on tap for Google's May 11 shareholder meeting. There's no guarantee, however, that it will actually be heard. Google could knock the proposal off the agenda for any number of reasons. |

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