Key Facebook investors join push to oust Mark Zuckerberg as chairman

James Martin  CNET

In opposing the proposal, Facebook said an independent chair could "cause uncertainty, confusion, and inefficiency in board and management function and relations". The founder of Facebook holds the positions of CEO of the company as well as chairman of the board, thereby retaining both operational as well as corporate control over all decisions at Facebook.

Reuters says that the proposal was co-filed by State treasurers from Illinois, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, and New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer. The social media platform is also in the radar for allegedly playing a role in the proliferation of fake news and foreign meddling in the USA elections.

The recent data breach that led to data of almost 30 million users being stolen added fresh fuel to Facebook's troubles. The fund holds 4.7 million shares in Facebook as of the end of the first quarter.

Rhode Island State Treasurer Seth Magaziner said that the proposal was still worth filing, although the 2017 attempt to remove Zuckerberg ended up being a mostly symbolic challenge, as a way of drawing attention to Facebook's problems and how to solve them. "Now is the time for change".

Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs added in the statement: "We need to see more accountability of Mark Zuckerberg to the board of directors to restore investor confidence and protect shareholder value". If the board allows it, stockholders will vote on the matter and will be able to submit their votes right up to the date of the company's annual stockholder's meeting next May.

The Trillium-led group said Apple (AAPL), Alphabet 's Google (GOOGL), Microsoft (MSFT), Oracle (ORCL), and Twitter (TWTR) have separate CEOs and chairs.

While stinging, and yet another marker of growing distrust of the social-media giant, the proposal is unlikely to have much sway.

The plan would require the company to appoint an independent chairman of the board, breaking up Zuckerberg's dual positions as CEO and chairman. A Facebook spokesman refused to comment.

A similar plan past year was approved by 51 percent of the independent investors, but Zuckerberg controls mass numbers of Class B shares in the company, which have "10 times the voting power of class A shares" owned by the public.

Still, discord could mount.

Facebook's next shareholder meeting is in May 2019.

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