What do Arne Sorenson and Aida Alvarez have in common?
They both serve on the Walmart board of directors and were re-elected by shareholders at the company’s annual meeting last week, but for some reason they also drew the largest number of negative votes, according to results of the election Walmart filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission late Thursday.
Alvarez, Sorenson and the entire slate of directors received a similar number of “for” votes; there were 52,545,582 shares voted “against” Alvarez and 57,451,417 votes cast “against” Sorenson. Those figures were substantially higher than the 35,175,451 shares voted “against” Michele Burns and more than double the number of negative votes received by any other board member.
Alvarez, 61, has served on the Walmart board since 2006 and is the former administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration and served in former President Bill Clinton’s cabinet from 1997 to 2001. She was the founding director of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight from 1993 to 1997. Prior to 1993, she also served as a VP of public finance at First Boston Corporation and Bear Stearns & Co. Inc. She also chairs the Latino Community Foundation of San Francisco and has served as a director of UnionBanCal Corporation and Union Bank, N.A. since 2004.
Sorenson, 52, has served on the Walmart board since 2008 and has served as president and COO of Marriott International Inc., for the past two years. He joined the hotel chain’s board earlier this year and prior to assuming his current role with Marriott, Sorenson served as EVP and CFO from 1998 to 2009 and also previously served as president of Marriott’s Continental European Lodging division. Prior to Marriott, Sorenson was a partner with the law firm of Latham & Watkins in Washington, D.C.
The business credentials of both individuals qualify them to serve on Walmart’s board, but the disparity in votes among the board members is rather curious and the volume of shares voted against Alvarez and Sorenson suggests some institutional holders of Walmart shares didn’t want them on the board.
How shareholders voted for Walmart board nominees: