Microsoft Shareholders Are Advised Against Re-Election Of John Thompson

Proxy advisory firm says Microsoft investors shouldn’t re-elect the man tasked with finding Steve Ballmer’s replacement to the board

Microsoft shareholders have been advised by proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis to vote against the re-election independent director John Thompson to the board. Thompson is currently tasked with finding the successor to CEO Steve Ballmer, who is due to step down within the next 12 months.

Glass Lewis, which is one of two major companies that make recommendations based on corporate governance guidelines, reportedly issued a note to its clients earlier this week, expressing concerns about a possible conflict of interest for Thompson, who is CEO of Virtual Instruments, a cloud company that sells licenses and devices to Microsoft.

Steve Ballmer replacement

Giant Microsoft Surface 2 Trafalgar Square (1)The note recommended that shareholders re-elect Microsoft’s eight other directors, including Ballmer and co-founder Bill Gates, although it is worth noting that Glass Lewis’ recommendations are not necessarily accepted by large investors.

Gates himself has come under pressure to step down from the board, with some leading investors believing he is a barrier to reform at the company, which has surrendered leadership in the mobile arena to the likes of Apple and Google.

It is not clear whether Ballmer will remain on the board after his retirement, although he has said he intends to be an active shareholder. Reports earlier this month suggested that Microsoft was keen to find his replacement before the end of the year, with Ford CEO Alan Mullaly and former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop mentioned as potential candidates.

Thompson has been so far leading the search, but even if he is not re-elected to the board of directors, it is unlikely that Redmond will be consulting TechWeekEurope readers for advice after they voted John McAfee as their favourite to replace Ballmer.

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