Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s board voted to appoint James Cash Jr. as its new lead independent director, said David Tovar, a company spokesman.
Cash, 65, an emeritus professor at Harvard University, has been on Wal-Mart’s board since 2006. He replaces former lead director James Breyer, 51, who wasn’t renominated this year because he rotated off the board in accordance with its governance guidelines, the company has said. The board voted before the world’s biggest retailer held its annual meeting on June 7, Tovar said yesterday in an e-mail. Samuel Robson “Rob” Walton, 68, remains chairman, Tovar said.
Wal-Mart Chief Executive Officer Mike Duke and two other directors received less than 90 percent of shareholders’ votes last week at the company’s annual meeting amid probes of bribery allegations abroad. Wal-Mart and regulators are investigating claims that executives in Mexico paid more than $24 million in bribes to speed expansion there. Operations in Brazil, India and China also are being probed.
Cash has served on the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company’s audit committee, including at the time of the alleged bribery, and on its Technology and eCommerce Committee.
Shareholder advisory firm Glass Lewis & Co. had recommended voting against Cash in its 2013 proxy report on Wal-Mart, citing the bribery allegations against executives in Mexico. The U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating the allegations.
Duke received 87.9 percent of votes for re-election, Chairman Rob Walton got 89.9 percent and audit committee Chairman Chris Williams got 87.8 percent, the company said in a statement. Cash received 96.8 percent.
While the percentage of votes in favor of Duke, Walton and Williams were higher than at the previous annual meeting, all three had received 99 percent or more of the vote before last year, when the bribery allegations came to light.