retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times reports that when the votes were tallied after last Friday's board of directors election at Walmart's annual shareholders meeting, the "no" votes on four people - CEO Mike Duke, former CEO Lee Scott, chairman S. Robson Walton, and Christopher Williams, chairman of the audit committee - "exceeded 12 percent, the largest opposition any of them has encountered in an annual shareholder vote.

"The tally against Mr. Duke, moreover, set a record for opposition to a Wal-Mart chief executive, according to Securities and Exchange Commission’s filings since 1995, the first available electronic filings on the topic from Wal-Mart."

Because the Walton family controls almost 50 percent of the company's shares, and when combined with executives and board members actually owns a majority of the company, the numbers mean that roughly one-third of outside investors voted against the company’s chairman, chief executive and two board members - a percentage that experts call "very significant."

The vote follows recent revelations that Walmart's Mexico division may have engaged in systematic and systemic bribery as a way of growing its business there, and then when presented with evidence in the case, Walmart's top execs - including Duke and Scott - may have covered it up.
KC's View:
Better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

Sure, tossing out the current board was never going to happen. But maybe some of the outside investors have actually gotten the attention of Walmart's controlling interests. Maybe they'll realize in Bentonville that cover-ups are almost never the answer. And maybe they'll start walking the integrity walk as opposed to just talking the talk...