April 24, 2013

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Wells Fargo Annual Meeting Comes to SLC, Protestors Follow

Di Lewis

April 24, 2013


Wells Fargo moved its Annual Stockholder Meeting to Salt Lake City for the first time, holding the meeting at the Grand America Tuesday morning. The meeting has been held in San Francisco, where the company is based, for the last 14 years.

The shareholders voted on six proposals, four from the company and two from shareholders. The last two brought the most discussion, calling for the position of chairman to be independent from that of CEO. The second asked for an independent review of the bank’s internal controls over mortgage servicing and foreclosure practices.

Both shareholder proposals were not passed.

A small group of protestors interrupted the meeting, shouting about foreclosures and unfair lending. As they were escorted out of the building by security, they chanted, “Racist lending is a crime. John Stumpf should be doing time.” Stumpf is the Wells Fargo chairman, CEO and president, who was conducting the meeting.

Other shareholders remained in the meeting and expressed frustration at the company’s lending practices, saying the company’s mortgage lending and servicing process poses a significant legal risk, as well as risk to the bank’s reputation.

Stumpf thanked people for their comments and said while Wells Fargo cannot save every homeowner from foreclosure, the bank has done $6 billion in principle forgiveness since January 2009, more than any other bank.

“Homeownership is probably the most emotional financial decision any of us will make… I think it’s natural to see some of these emotions expressed,” said Oscar Suris, executive vice president of corporate communications, explaining the difference between the bank’s view of its lending practices and protestor’s claims of unfair practices.

He said the bank has done more to prevent poor lending practices than most people realize, adding that during the real estate bubble, Wells Fargo gave up market share because it had tighter controls.

Stumpf also presented the bank’s year-over-year numbers from 2011 to 2012, saying revenue grew by 6 percent, loans by 4 percent, deposits by 9 percent and total equity by 12 percent.

“We get bigger by being better. We don’t get better by being bigger,” Stumpf said.

The company also elected the following 14 people to the Wells Fargo board of directors:

John D. Baker II, executive chairman of Patriot Transportation Holding, Inc.

Elaine L. Chao, distinguished fellow at The Heritage Foundation

John S. Chen, retired chairman and CEO of Sybase, Inc.

Lloyd H. Dean, president and CEO of Dignity Health

Susan E. Engel, CEO of Portero, Inc.

Enrique Hernandez, Jr., chairman, president and CEO of Inter-Con Security Systems, Inc.

Donald M. James, chairman and CEO of Vulcan Materials Co.

Cynthia H. Milligan, dean emeritus of the College of Business Administration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Federico F. Peña, senior advisor of Vestar Capital Partners

Howard V. Richardson, retired partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

Judith M. Runstad, of counsel to Foster Pepper PLLC

Stephen W. Sanger, retired chairman and CEO of General Mills, Inc.

John G. Stumpf, chairman, president and CEO of Wells Fargo

Susan G. Swenson, retired president and CEO of Sage Software – North America

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