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Hirsh Ament, partner at Venable, participated in a video interview during Nareit’s REITwise: 2024 Law, Accounting & Finance Conference held March 19-21 in Hollywood, Fla.

Reflecting on the 2023 proxy season, Ament highlighted the proliferation of ESG proposals, noting a slight increase in environmental and social matters but a decrease in governance issues. These proposals generally lacked significant support, he said, with only around 20% approval rates and few passing.

Discussing corporate governance, Ament addressed the introduction of universal proxy and its impact on proxy contests. "While the first year didn't witness a significant increase in contests or success rates, there was a slight rise in nominees failing to meet advance notice bylaw requirements,” Ament said, noting that this occurred because companies amended their bylaws to incorporate universal proxy and enhance governance provisions.

Ament also highlighted a significant update in Maryland corporate law, particularly the Eastland Foods case, which clarified director duties and provided stability for boards. This clarification, coupled with Maryland's stable legal environment, contrasts with ongoing developments in Delaware, offering reassurance to REITs operating in Maryland, Ament said.