SEC Requirements for Online Annual Reports and Proxy Statements

The SEC is trying to move investors further into the internet era with its new regulations on the ability to furnish proxy materials to shareholders by posting them on an Internet Web site and providing shareholders with notice of the electronic availability of the proxy materials. [SEC Release 34-56135] This is amendment to the original electronic delivery regulations in SEC Release 34-55146.

I am confused with a statement on page 11:

The materials must be presented on the Web site in a format, or formats, convenient for both reading online and printing on paper.[FN35]
footnote 35:
We believe that requiring readable and printable formats is important so that shareholders have meaningful access to the proxy materials. When determining the readability and printability of formats, issuers should consider the size of the files because many shareholders do not have broadband connections. Although some types of files may be suitable for persons with high-speed Internet access, the readability and printability of a document may be affected significantly by the time that it takes to download the document.

I expect that most people expected they post a .pdf version of their annual report and proxy statement on their website. This seems to indicate that you can’t if it would take a long time to download.  Personally, I though .pdf files would be the way to go. This leaves some doubt in my mind. Pdf files tend to be big which would result in a long time to download.

You can read more in this summary by John F. Olson, Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and Visiting Professor, Georgetown Law Center on The Harvard Law School Corporate Governance Blog: E-Proxy Rules Take Effect for All Public Companies.