The Securities and Exchange Commission is giving the go-ahead to a shareholder proposal that seeks to break up the mighty Bank of America. Bartlett Naylor, the financial policy adviser for the consumer-rights advocacy group Public Citizen who filed the proposal, said it could be a matter “of galactic proportions for the bank.”
The nonbinding referendum is unlikely to lead to major shakeups when shareholders consider it at the next Bank of America shareholder meeting later this year. But the SEC’s ruling signals an important shift at the agency, and a strong showing from shareholders in support of the proposal could invite pressure from other activist investors and a larger public broadly in favor of downsizing financial titans.
The proposal marks the first time the SEC has supported a shareholder vote on splitting up a major bank. A round of shareholder breakup bids from labor groups in 2013 failed to win SEC support, as did proposals Naylor submitted to a trio of banks last year. At least seven such proposals have been filed since 2009.