Government Love for Failing A123 Systems Was Unconditional

A123 logoAs stimulus-funded ($249 million-plus) A123 Systems sees its stock price drop back near its all-time low and waits for a Chinese rescue, two Republican senators want answers about whether taxpayer dollars are again funding jobs and technology that will be transferred overseas.

Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley, the ranking minority member on the Judiciary Committee, and South Dakota Sen. John Thune queried A123 CEO David Vieau about the logistics of a proposed sale to China-based Wanxiang Group Corp. In August, just as the company reported another $82.9 million in second-quarter losses, a deal was announced in which Wanxiang would deliver $75 million in initial loans and then would buy $200 million of senior secured convertible notes, followed by a possible $175 million “through the exercise of warrants it would receive in connection with the bridge loan and convertible notes.” If fully consummated, the end result could mean A123 ends …

After Layoffs, Execs Get Big Raises at Taxpayer-Funded A123

A123 logoA taxpayer-funded electric vehicle battery company, that is considered in great danger due to its dependency on troubled EV company Fisker Automotive, has awarded its top executives big salary increases despite a steep downward trajectory in its stock price.

Massachusetts-based A123 Systems — which received $279.1 million in stimulus money from the Department of Energy, and up to $135 million in incentives from the State of Michigan — boosted the base salaries of two vice presidents and its chief financial officer on February 8.

Chief Financial Officer David Prystash was bumped 27 percent to $380,000; VP of Energy Solutions Robert Johnson’s base salary increased 51 percent from his 2010 level to $400,000; and VP of Automotive Systems Jason Forcier saw his pay rise 32 percent from 2010, to $350,000. The news was first reported by the Boston Web site of Citybizlist.com, which obtained the information from an A123 SEC

Did U.S. Taxpayers Boost Bailout of British EV Investors?

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NLPC readers by now have learned there is more than meets the media’s eye when it comes to the Obama administration’s “Green” initiatives, and specifically, the government-subsidized electric vehicle program. Particularly egregious might be how American taxpayers have helped save a troubled EV company in the United Kingdom for its burdened investors.

Under the surface in this case is Kansas City-based Smith Electric Vehicles Corp., a company that did not exist in its U.S. form until January 2009. The company does not make passenger vehicles, but commercial trucks. Once Smith-U.S. established itself in Missouri, somehow that was enough of a track record for the Department of Energy to award the company $10 million in August 2009, and an additional $22 million in March 2010, for an ET (electric truck) demonstration program. 

The founders of Smith-U.S. did not come from the automobile or electricity businesses, or anything even …

Corporate America Can’t Keep Up with All the Sustainability Demands

score cardThe competition in corporate America to show who is “Greenest” or “most sustainable” has spun out of control, with the Alinskyite effect that drives corporations to spend vast amounts of time and money trying to address the whims and requests of every Leftist niche group that waves some kind of scorecard in their faces.

Meanwhile customers pay for the lunacy in higher prices, and shareholders (those not in the Corporate Social Responsibility movement) bear the burden in diminished returns on their investments. 

A Businessweek report from Thanksgiving Eve illustrated how unwieldy the demands of eco-graders and CSR activists have become, as “companies are buried in requests for data as groups jockey to be the arbiters of sustainability.” And you thought IRS and other government regulatory compliance was a headache.

The article explains how companies like Intel and Walmart are inundated by organizations who seek to rank their performances on …

Green Pressure Groups Want More Corporate Climate Disclosure

Ceres logoEnvironmental pressure group Ceres, whose primary activity is to drive corporations to report their greenhouse gas emitting activities and disclose climate risk in their Securities and Exchange Commission filings, recently released a report that outlines exactly what companies should be disclosing.

The report, “Disclosing Climate Risks and Opportunities in SEC Filings: A Guide for Corporate Executives, Attorneys and Directors,” was written by three environmentalist attorneys and was reviewed by representatives of Friends of the Earth, Climate Change Lawyers Network, Carbon Disclosure Project, Natural Resources Defense Council, Investor Environmental Health Network, California Public Employees’ Retirement System, California State Teachers’ Retirement System, and Environmental Defense Fund, plus other “Green” law firms and investor groups.

As global warming alarmists scramble to tamp down another Climategate-related scandal and their dire predictions are shown to be untrue again and again, some corporate leaders are still cowed into reporting imaginary climate “risks” by …

Greens to Ratchet Up Shareholder Activism

$ green imageIf you think environmentalist shareholder tactics like those employed by Rockefeller descendants on Exxon – which push their agenda via resolutions at annual meetings rather than promote company profitability – then you haven’t seen anything yet, according to a Marketwatch report yesterday. After the BP oil leak disaster and the Massey Energy coal mining accident that killed 29 workers, green activists are expected to increase pressure on corporate executives next year:

Investors hope in 2011 to build on the strong vote-counts and a record number of proposals that shareholders considered in 2010. More than 100 climate and energy-focused shareholder proposals were put before shareholders of 88 U.S. and Canadian companies this year, almost 50 percent more than in 2009, according to a July report by Ceres, a coalition of investors and environmental groups.

The investor measures tackle a wide variety of issues, including environmental risks associated with coal ash, policies

Wal-Mart Tries to Stop Shareholder Discussion of ObamaCare, Cap and Trade

Wal-Mart logoSuddenly at odds with public opinion on Barack Obama’s proposals on health care and global warming, Wal-Mart is seeking to exclude from its proxy our shareholder proposal that asks for a report on the company’s lobbying priorities.  As we noted in the supporting statement, Wal-Mart favors these proposals that will dramatically raise the cost of living for its customers, at the same time it has taken a lower profile on issues like tort reform that would benefit its customers, not to mention the company and its shareholders.

As we documented in our Special Report titled Wal-Mart Embraces Controversial Causes: Bid to Appease Liberal Interest Groups Will Likely Fail, Hurt Business, the company’s management has steered the company to the political Left under the guidance of Edelman public relations firm. With the public now turning against the very ideas that Edelman counseled Wal-Mart to embrace, it is no surprise that …

NLPC Challenges Proposed SEC Rule Mandating Corporate ‘Diversity’

Diversity report coverThe Securities & Exchange Commission this past July has proposed amending Item 407(c)(2)(v) of Regulation S-K to require disclosure of racial and ethnic diversity on corporate and related nonprofit fund boards. We have submitted a comment of opposition because we believe this rule change to be a highly misguided intrusion into corporate governance.

Even assuming benign intent – and that is a stretch of an assumption – the outcome would be anything but benign. Anyone with sound instincts knows that any submitted information would be fair game for organizations seeking to tie executive compensation to the creation of a rigorously-monitored affirmative action spoils system.

The SEC was established 75 years ago for the purpose of protecting investors in publicly-traded securities against fraud and incompetence. Now more than ever this mission must be paramount. Whether the proportion of blacks, Hispanic, Asians and other minority groups in a given company adds up to …