The proposal to declassify the Willbros Board is meant to bring greater accountability to executive management and bring the company's policy more in line with the practices of the majority of S&P 500 corporate boards. Under the current classified structure, it is impossible for shareholders to register their views on all directors' performance annually because only a third of the directors are up for election in any given year.
LIUNA benefit funds have been active in raising concerns about the company in order to protect members' assets because of the WG's troubled history of poor performance and risk management issues. Willbros Group has had years of lackluster stock performance (including a decline of more than 70 percent in the last five years), poor execution of projects and consistently weak margins, all compounded by weak corporate governance practices and a lack of accountability by upper management. WG has also recently faced a financial restatement resulting in a reversal of approximately $8 million in pre-tax income and the recognition of up to $16 million in pre-tax losses, due to failure to report problems with a pipeline project in Ohio. The company also violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in 2008 and was forced to come to a settlement agreement with the West African Gas Pipeline Company, resulting in payments by Willbros Group of nearly $56 million.
LIUNA will continue to urge investors to push for changes to the executive team and for Willbros Group to adopt the shareholder proposals voted on today for the sake of the company's financial health and performance.
The half-million members of LIUNA – the Laborers' International Union of North America – are on the forefront of the construction industry, a powerhouse of workers who are proud to build America.