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惠普董事会大变脸,公司治理初现曙光

Eleanor Bloxham 2011年11月22日

惠普公司决定任命一位首席独立董事和一位著名的维权投资者加入该公司董事会。对于这家长期以来深陷公司治理泥沼的科技巨头来说,这两个任命是个好兆头。

    惠特沃思将在薪酬委员会任职,该委员会需要处理股东们在投票否决公司薪酬安排时提出的种种问题。这项任命或许有助于增强股东对公司改革的支持。

    协议还禁止惠特沃思协助股东就董事会候选人提名或其他提议发起的任何行动。惠普一直是明年股东提名建议的主要候选公司。惠特沃思的任命或许会劝阻惠普公司的维权股东不要采取这种办法,至少现在不要。

    但我们希望,惠特沃思的任命不仅仅只是一个防御性举措,而是代表着董事会执行主席雷•莱恩、古普塔和其他董事改善惠普公司治理规范的真实意愿。

    惠特沃思2006年曾与我进行了一次广泛深入的讨论,详细阐述了他对公司治理持有的一些观点。惠特沃思称,他认为,做一名维权股东是非常重要的,因为“它正是管理工作这一概念的题中应有之义,它是身为股东与公司签署的协约。”资本市场体系“倘若没有问责制,就无法正常运转,当然,问责制最终必须由所有者亲自推动。因此,必须成为一位积极的维权者。必须保持警觉,当好手头资产的管家,鼓励你的代理人,也就是公司的董事们,切实履行好监管之责,”他当时这样说道。

    惠特沃思表示,每个董事会都应该“确保董事会中有一两位专门挑刺的成员。”他还提议,每个董事会都需要任命一位成员质询董事会的行动,这个人必须“非常独立,”敢于“说出自己的想法。”

    但愿惠特沃思能发挥表率作用,为显著改善惠普公司治理规范鼓与呼。如果他做到这一点,惠普长达10年的公司治理困境或许会最终迎来一个皆大欢喜的结局。

    本文作者Eleanor Bloxham系董事会咨询机构价值同盟和公司治理同盟公司(The Value Alliance and Corporate Governance Alliance)CEO。

    译者:任文科

    Whitworth will serve on the compensation committee, which will need to address shareholder concerns raised in this year's vote against the company's pay practices. His appointment may help bolster shareholder support for any changes the company makes.

    The agreement also bars Whitworth from aiding any campaign to institute shareholder nominations of candidates for board elections or other proposals. HP had been a prime candidate for a shareholder nominations proposal next year. Whitworth's appointment may dissuade active HP shareholders from pursuing this avenue, at least for now.

    But hopefully, Whitworth's appointment is more than just a defensive move and represents a real interest in better governance practices by executive chair Ray Lane, Gupta, and the other members of HP's board.

    In a wide-ranging discussion with me in 2006, Whitworth articulated some of his views on governance. Whitworth said that he thought being an active shareholder was important because "it comes right out of the concept of stewardship, and the contract essentially that you have with the company as a shareholder." The capital markets system, he said at the time, "doesn't work without accountability, and the accountability, of course, ultimately has to be driven by the owners…. So, you have to be active. You have to be vigilant to be a good steward of the assets that you own and to encourage excellent stewardship by those that represent you, in this case the board of directors."

    Whitworth said every board should "make sure that [they] have a couple of prickly devil's advocates around the table". He also proposed that every board needs a designated person to question a board's actions, someone who is "very independent" and will "speak their mind."

    Here's hoping that Whitworth will be that role model and voice for significantly stronger governance practices at HP. If he is, HP's decade-long corporate governance troubles may have a happy ending after all.

    Eleanor Bloxham is CEO of The Value Alliance and Corporate Governance Alliance (http://thevaluealliance.com), a board advisory firm.

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