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September was a very busy month for key providers and several key staffers in Proxy-Land, starting with an announcement from Morrow Sodali that they’d hired two prominent industry executives; Steven Pantina, a 14 year Georgeson veteran, who, among other things, oversaw the production of Georgeson’s Annual Corporate Governance Review, who signed on as a Senior Managing Director and Tom Margadona, the former Senior Vice President of Marketing Intelligence at D.F. King, as a Managing Director. “In the first 100 days since the creation of Morrow Sodlai we have seen our global client base expand to more than 600 companies and our staff to more than 100. In response to escalating activist activities…we will continue to expand our services and our executive teams in the U.S. and globally” Sodali Morrow’s Chairman John Wilcox noted in the release.

Days later, Okapi Partners announced that they had hired Jason Alexander, an 18 year veteran of Georgeson as a Managing Director. Their Press release noted that Alexander, who is a member of the Society for Corporate Governance, and NIRI, “worked on transactions involving more than 400 domestic, multinational and Canadian companies across all business sectors…on a wide variety of corporate governance and investor response issues” and, according to Bruce H. Goldfarb, Okapi’s President and CEO, “We will continue to seek talented professionals at all levels as Okapi Partners continues to grow and serve our corporate and investor clients.”

In yet another development, The Harkins Group, founded a while back by former D.F. King CEO Peter Harkins, and which had totally escaped our radar scans until our 2nd Q issue, has hired Jordan Kovler, formerly an SVP at D.F. King (now part of AST)… and has changed its name to Harkins Kovler, LLC. Smart move, we say: The press release notes that Kovler’s experience “encompasses numerous contentious M&A transactions and proxy contests occurring in the U.S. and Europe over the past ten years, along with corporate governance consulting for some of the world’s largest publicly traded companies. In his final two years of employment at D.F. King, Mr. Kovler advised on over twenty announced transactions valued at over $350 billion. He also advised some of the largest publicly traded companies in connection with corporate governance, investor relations and shareholder communications programs.” [How did AST/DFK lose this guy, we wonder.] The release also notes that “In its first year of existence, the [Harkins] firm has represented, among others, Deutsche Börse AG in a merger of equals with the London Stock Exchange Group plc and Carl Icahn in connection with his investment in American International Group, Inc. (AIG).”

Our sources tell us that more moves of key staffers are still afoot in this increasingly hurley-burley industry, which may end up in some big changes in the leader boards because, one thing for sure, corporate clients often rank their longstanding ties to the specific people who are “on their account” as their number-one item when looking at proxy solicitors and advisors – and are often inclined to follow them when they move on…So watch this space for more news as we ramp up for the big 2017 Shareholder Meeting Season, where we foresee more big issues and more general unrest than ever before.