UPDATE, 7:51 PM: Cablevision returned fire at Comptroller John Liu for challenging the directors who failed to win a majority of the votes. The company says that they “have helped to create great value for Cablevision shareholders. We look forward to their continuing contributions. Our shareholders know that Cablevision is a controlled company and they understand the rules by which our directors are elected. Once again, Mr. Liu is off base attacking another major New York employer. Mr. Liu is no position to lecture anyone about ethics.”
PREVIOUS, 6:35 PM: The term “zombie director” refers to a board member who’s elected without the support of a majority of the shareholder votes — and their existance infuriates corporate governance watchdogs. But Cablevision reports today that two of the five candidates for the board seats to represent public investors failed to meet that threshold at yesterday’s annual meeting. Since the company only nominated five people for the openings — and there were no outside candidates — they couldn’t lose. But Bond Street Holdings’ Vincent Tese won with just 45.2% supporting him and 54.8% withholding approval. New Century Holdings’ Leonard Tow was supported by 48.2%. Another director who failed to win a majority last time — former JP Morgan Chase Managing Director Thomas Reifenheiser — barely made it above that level with 50.5% support. The results outraged New York City Comptroller John Liu who oversees the city pension funds’ 532,020 Class A Cablevision shares and had urged investors to oppose the board candidates. “Shareowners delivered a stinging rebuke to the five Cablevision directors we opposed for being ineffective and unaccountable, including majority votes against two of them,” Liu said. “Both Mr. Tese and Dr. Tow, should immediately step down. In Mr. Tese’s case, this is the third majority vote against his directorship in the past four years. Enough is enough.” Liu is running for mayor as city labor leaders allege that Cablevision CEO Jim Dolan refused to bargain in good faith with unionized cable installers — a charge that the company rejects. Yesterday the company called in police when union protesters disrupted the shareholder meeting.