Managers of the Sequoia Fund (MUTF:SEQUX) are taking a rare step and advising their investors to vote against the re-election of James A. Johnson to stay as a director at Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS). The Sequoia Fund does not want Johnson because of his past mostly. James Johnson was the chief executive of Fannie Mae, the mortgage giant that collapsed during the financial crisis and his past history with stock option scandals while being a director at other firms.
The famous value mutual fund is simply looking out for Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) and believes that Johnson is not the best director for the job. Here is a little snip-it from a letter from the mutual fund to its investors regarding the vote: “Mr. Johnson has been at the center of several egregious corporate governance debacles,” the Sequoia managers wrote.
“We believe Mr. Johnson’s history should disqualify him from service on the board of any public company” (NY Times). In addition, the fund was put back by James Johnson’s $523,000 in compensation last year while being on the board for Goldman and on the bank’s compensation committee.
If I was a Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) shareholder I would vote against Johnson as well. How can you trust someone who has been in scandals involving compensation? Not to mention is being paid over half a million dollars while he is a chairman of the compensation committee. It is unfortunate that Goldman has chosen to defend Johnson due to his service with the company since 1999.
The Sequoia Fund managers, Robert D. Goldfarb and David M. Poppe were named domestic stock managers of the year in 2010. Obviously, these guys know what they are doing because the Sequoia Fund has been one of the best performing mutual funds for decades now. If these guys think Johnson should be re-elected, there is a reason and it is probably in your best interest as a shareholder to follow their advice.
Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) is having a serious corporate governance issue this year. Two big time directors have resigned and now they are under fire for continuing to support another director that has some questionable past events.
It would be in Goldman’s best interest to stay out of the spotlight on issues such as these because it only gives the opposition more power whether its competitors, the government or OWS.
Goldman needs to start thinking about their actions and fixing their governance because it is just simply killing them. All of these distractions are taking away from focusing on the business which will hurt them down the road.