CORPORATE GOVERNANCE GUIDELINES
The Board has adopted these Guidelines and the Committee Charters to provide a framework for the functioning of the Board. The Board will periodically review these materials and practices in light of ongoing developments and the Corporation's needs to determine whether any changes are required.
Role of the Board
The business of the Corporation is conducted by management, under the direction of the Board of Directors. The Board, and each committee of the Board, has complete access to management. In addition, the Board and each committee have access to independent advisors as each deems necessary or appropriate.
Strategic Planning and Management Development. At least once a year, the Board conducts a strategic planning session with management. The Board reviews succession planning and management development at least annually. The process includes consideration of organizational needs, competitive challenges, the potential of key managers, planning for future development and emergency situations.
Executive Sessions. The independent Directors of the Board meet at least once each year in executive session. The non-employee Directors of the Board meet at least three times each year in executive session. Any Director has the right to call a meeting or executive session of the independent Directors or of the non-employee Directors.
In at least one executive session, the Board assesses the process and effectiveness of the Board (including opportunities for continuing education and orientation of new Directors) and considers any other matters that the Directors request. In the executive session of independent Directors, the Board receives the Human Resources Committee's report on the CEO’s performance and compensation.
Presiding Director. At or prior to the Annual Meeting of Shareholders, the independent members of the Board of Directors shall elect an independent director to serve as Presiding Director until the next Annual Meeting, or until his or her successor is elected and qualified, with the initial Presiding Director to hold office until the 2007 Annual Meeting or until her successor is elected or qualified. The Presiding Director shall act as liaison with the Chairman, in consultation with the other Directors. In addition, all Directors shall have direct and complete access to the Chairman at any time as they deem necessary or appropriate. The Presiding Director shall chair all executive sessions of the Board and all other meetings of the Board at which the Chairman is not present. The Presiding Director may, in his or her discretion, call an executive session of the Board, and shall call an executive session at the request of any other Director.
The Presiding Director, in consultation with the Chairman, shall review and approve the schedule of meetings of the Board, the proposed agendas and the materials to be sent to the Board. Directors shall have the opportunity to provide suggestions for the meeting schedule, agenda items and materials to the Chairman or the Presiding Director.
Any shareholder or interested party may communicate directly with the Presiding Director:
Verizon Communications Inc.
Board of Directors
140 West Street, 29th Floor
New York, New York 10007
Committees. There are three (3) committees of the Board: Audit; Corporate Governance and Policy; and Human Resources. The members of the Audit, Corporate Governance and Policy and Human Resources committees will be independent as required by law or regulation. The Board may change the number of committees from time to time.
The responsibilities of each committee are set forth in its charter, which is approved by the Board and posted on the Corporation’s website. Each committee Chair approves the agenda and materials for each meeting and reports its actions and discussions to the Board as soon as practicable. At least annually, each committee conducts an assessment of its charter and its processes and effectiveness.
Membership. The Corporate Governance and Policy Committee annually reviews and recommends the members and Chair of each committee for approval by the Board. The Committee periodically considers rotating Chairs and members of the committees.
Meetings. Directors are expected to attend all meetings of the Board and each committee on which they serve. Directors are provided with a copy of the proposed agenda sufficiently in advance of each scheduled meeting in order to have the opportunity to comment on or make changes to the agenda. Directors standing for election are expected to attend the Annual Meeting of Shareholders.
Board Composition and Director Qualifications
The Board will periodically assess the needs of the Corporation to determine the appropriate size of the Board. At all times, a substantial majority of the Board will be independent and not more than two Directors will be current or former employees of Verizon.
A candidate must:
- Be ethical;
- Have proven judgment and competence;
- Have professional skills and experience in dealing with a large, complex organization or in dealing with complex problems that are complementary to the background and experience represented on the Board and that meet the needs of the Corporation;
- Have demonstrated the ability to act independently and be willing to represent the interests of all shareholders and not just those of a particular philosophy or constituency; and
- Be willing and able to devote sufficient time to fulfill his or her responsibilities to Verizon and its shareholders.
In assessing the appropriate composition of the Board, the Corporate Governance and Policy Committee also considers other factors that are relevant to the current needs of the Corporation, including those that promote diversity.
Identification and Consideration of Candidates. The Corporate Governance and Policy Committee considers candidates proposed by members of the Committee, other Directors, management and shareholders. The Committee considers candidates for re-election, provided that the candidate has consented to stand for re-election and tendered an irrevocable resignation to the Chairman of the Committee prior to nomination each year. All candidates are evaluated in the same manner. After the Committee has completed its evaluation, it presents its recommendation to the full Board for its consideration and approval. In presenting its recommendation, the Committee also reports on other candidates who were considered but not selected.
Verizon will conduct an orientation program for each new Director that includes, among other things, a review of the Corporation's business, financial condition, strategy, ethical obligations, key issues and other relevant topics.
Independence. A Director is considered independent if the Board finds that the Director has no material relationship with the Corporation. In evaluating independence, the Board will not consider a Director independent if:
- Within the past three years, the Director or a Member of the Director’s Immediate Family has:
- Been an employee of Verizon or a Verizon subsidiary (“Verizon”);
- Been an employee or affiliate of an independent public accountant of Verizon;
- Received during any 12-month period more than $100,000 in direct compensation from Verizon (other than Director's compensation and other than pension or other deferred compensation for prior service with Verizon);
- Been an executive officer of a company where at the same time a Verizon executive officer or executive in compensation Band 1 (each a “Verizon Senior Executive”) served on the company's compensation committee;
- Within the past three years, the Director has been retained under a personal or professional services contract by Verizon;
- The Director is an employee, or a Member of the Director’s Immediate Family is an executive officer, of a company that has made payments to, or received payments from, Verizon in an amount that, in any of the past three years, exceeded the greater of $1 million or one percent of that company's consolidated gross revenues;
- The Director is an executive officer of a lender to Verizon and Verizon’s outstanding indebtedness to the lender in any of the past three years exceeded one percent of the lender’s outstanding loans at the end of the lender's fiscal year;
- The Director is an executive officer of a non-profit entity that has received contributions from Verizon or its Foundation that, in any of the past three years, exceeded one percent of that entity's consolidated gross revenues (excluding matching gift contributions by Verizon's Foundation);
- Another Director or a Verizon Senior Executive is a Member of the Director's Immediate Family; or
- The Director has any other relationship that the Board determines is inconsistent with applicable laws and regulations on directors’ independence or that is likely to impair the Director’s ability to act independently.
For purposes of these Guidelines except as otherwise noted, a Member of a Director’s Immediate Family includes his or her spouse, parents, children, siblings, mothers and fathers-in-law, sons and daughters-in-law, brothers and sisters-in-law and anyone (other than domestic employees) who shares the Director’s home.
An executive officer of a company on whose board a Verizon Senior Executive serves is not eligible for nomination as a new Director of the Corporation.
Related Person Transaction Policy
For purposes of this Policy,
“Related Person” means:
- any person who has served as a Director or a Verizon executive officer (“Officer”) at any time during the Corporation’s last fiscal year;
- any person whose nomination to become a Director has been presented in a proxy statement relating to the election of Directors since the beginning of the Corporation's last fiscal year;
- any person who was at any time during the Corporation’s last fiscal year an “Immediate Family Member” of any of the persons listed above. Immediate Family Member means spouse, child, stepchild, parent, stepparent, sibling, mother-in-law, father-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law of the Director, Officer or nominee, and any person (other than a tenant or employee) sharing the household of such Director, Officer or nominee; or
- any person or any Immediate Family Member of such person who is known to the Corporation to be the beneficial owner of more than 5 percent of the Corporation’s stock at the time of the Transaction (as defined below).
“Related Person’s Firm” means any firm, corporation or other entity in which a Related Person is an executive officer or general partner or in which all Related Persons together have a 10 percent or more ownership interest.
“Transaction” means any transaction, arrangement or relationship with Verizon since the beginning of the Corporation's last fiscal year in an amount greater than $120,000 that involves or will involve a Related Person or a Related Person's Firm. It does not include:
compensation to a Director or Officer which is or will be disclosed in the Corporation’s proxy statement;
compensation to an Officer who is not an Immediate Family Member of a Director or of another Officer and which has been approved by the Human Resources Committee or the Board;
a transaction in which the rates or charges involved are determined by competitive bids, or which involves common, contract carrier or public utility services at rates or charges fixed in conformity with law or governmental authority;
a transaction that involves services as a bank depositary of funds, transfer agent, registrar, indenture trustee, or similar services; or
a transaction in which the Related Person’s interest arises solely from the ownership of Verizon stock and all shareholders receive the same benefit on a pro rata basis.
“Related Person Transaction” means a Transaction in which a Related Person is determined to have, had, or will have a direct or indirect material interest.
The Board of Directors recognizes that Related Person Transactions can present potential conflicts of interest (or the perception thereof) and therefore has adopted this policy which shall be followed in connection with all Related Person Transactions involving the Company.
Annually, each Director and Officer shall submit to Verizon the name and employment affiliation of his or her Immediate Family Members and the name of any Related Person's Firm with which any of them are affiliated. Directors and Officers shall notify Verizon promptly of any changes to this information. Each Director and Officer shall also identify any Transaction that they, their Immediate Family Members or their Related Person Firms are or will be involved in. On an ongoing basis, Directors and Officers shall promptly advise the Committee of any changes to such Immediate Family Members, Transactions or Related Person Firms.
Management shall submit Transactions and appropriate supplemental information to the Corporate Governance and Policy Committee for its review.
The Corporate Governance and Policy Committee shall review Transactions in order to determine whether a Transaction is a Related Person Transaction. The Committee shall take such action with respect to the Related Person Transaction as it deems necessary and appropriate under the circumstances, including approval, disapproval, ratification, cancellation, or a recommendation to management. Only disinterested members of the Committee shall participate in those determinations. In the event it is not practical to convene a meeting of the Corporate Governance and Policy Committee, the Chair of that Committee shall have the right to make such determination and shall promptly report his or her determination in writing to the other members of the Committee.
The Committee shall report its action with respect to any Related Person Transaction to the Board of Directors.
Change in status or retirement. If a Director retires or changes his or her employment status or principal responsibility outside of Verizon, the Director will tender a resignation to Verizon. The Corporate Governance and Policy Committee will recommend to the Board whether the resignation should be accepted.
Service on Other Boards. A Director who serves as an executive officer of a public company should not serve on more than three public company boards, including that of his or her own company, and other Directors should not serve on more than six public company boards. In order not to disrupt existing affiliations with other boards, a Director may maintain current positions, even if the number of those positions exceed these limits, unless the Board determines that permitting the position to continue will impair the Director’s ability to serve on the Verizon Board. Directors are expected to advise the Corporate Governance and Policy Committee of any changes in their membership on other boards.
Retirement. A Director will retire from the Board at the Board meeting next following his or her 72nd birthday.
Former CEO. The CEO will resign from the Board effective when he or she no longer serves as CEO.
Compensation. The Human Resources Committee periodically reviews and determines Director compensation and benefits. The Committee determines compensation based on a review of comparable companies, alignment with the interests of shareholders and the advice of independent advisors.
Stock ownership. Directors are encouraged to hold at least 5,000 shares of Verizon stock that may be acquired over a period of up to five years. Shares held by the Director under any deferral plan are included in determining the number of shares held.
Business Conduct and Ethics
Directors are expected to act in compliance with these Guidelines, applicable laws and regulations, and the spirit of the Verizon Code of Business Conduct for employees. Employee directors are also governed by Verizon's Code of Business Conduct.
Conflicts of interest. A Director should avoid situations that result or appear to result in a conflict of interest with Verizon. A Director may be considered to have a conflict of interest if the Director's interest interferes or appears to interfere in any material way with the interests of Verizon, including if:
- the Director, any Member of the Director’s Immediate Family, or any company with which any of them is associated as an officer, director, five percent or more owner, partner, employee or consultant (i) is a five percent or more owner of, or (ii) has any management interest in, any company that is in the same business as Verizon ("potential competitive interest"); or
- the Director offers gifts or other benefits to or solicits or receives gifts or other benefits from another entity as a result of his or her position with Verizon; or
- the Director has any other relationship that the Corporate Governance and Policy Committee believes is likely to result in a conflict of interest with Verizon.
A non-employee Director is expected to advise Verizon prior to acquiring or continuing any interest or entering into any transaction or relationship that may present a potential competitive interest. The Corporate Governance and Policy Committee, in consultation with the CEO and Chairman, will review and advise the Board as soon as practicable whether a conflict would be presented.
Corporate opportunities. A Director should not take advantage of an opportunity to engage in a business activity that properly belongs to Verizon, including any activity that is discovered as a result of the use of Verizon information or property or in connection with his or her service as a Director. A Director should not use Verizon information, property or his or her position with Verizon for personal gain.
Securities transactions. A Director should not trade, or enable any other person to trade, in Verizon's securities or the securities of another company while aware of material non-public information.
Confidentiality. Directors should maintain the confidentiality of information about Verizon and other entities which Verizon entrusts to them, except where the disclosure is authorized or required by law.
Fair dealing. Directors should act fairly in any dealings with the Corporation’s stakeholders, including customers, suppliers, competitors, employees and shareholders.
Waiver. No waiver of any provision of the business conduct and ethics requirements for a Director, or of any provision of the Verizon Code of Business Conduct for a Verizon Senior Executive, may be granted without the approval of the Board of Directors. The Board is strongly predisposed against any such waivers. However, in order to approve any such waiver, the Board must affirmatively find that the waiver does not violate any applicable law or regulation and that the waiver is in the best interests of the Corporation. In the event the Board approves a waiver, it will ensure that the waiver and the Board's rationale for granting the waiver are promptly disclosed, consistent with applicable legal and stock exchange requirements.
Verizon Senior Executives Serving on Outside Boards
A Verizon Senior Executive must obtain approval from the Corporate Governance and Policy Committee in advance of accepting any new membership on the Board of a public company. Verizon Senior Executives may not serve on the Board of more than two public companies other than Verizon.
A Verizon Senior Executive will not accept a new directorship with a company if the CEO or other executive officer of that company is serving as a Director of Verizon.
Shareholder Communications with Directors
If a shareholder wishes to communicate directly with the Board, a Committee of the Board or with an individual Director, he or she should send the communication to:
Verizon Communications Inc.
The Board of Directors [or Committee name or Director's name, as appropriate]
140 West Street, 29th Floor
New York, New York 10007
Verizon will forward all shareholder correspondence about Verizon to the Board, Committee or individual Director(s).
Policy on Adoption of Shareholder Rights Plans
The Corporation does not currently have a shareholder rights plan, or “poison pill,” and the Board currently has no plans to adopt such a plan. However, if the Board is presented with a set of facts and circumstances which leads it to conclude that adopting a rights plan would be in the best interest of shareholders, it will seek prior shareholder approval unless the independent Directors, exercising their fiduciary duties, determine that such submission would not be in the best interests of shareholders under the circumstances. If any rights plan is adopted without prior shareholder approval, it will be presented to shareholders within one year or expire within one year without being renewed or replaced. Any plan adopted by the Board will also contain a “sunset” provision, providing that shareholders will have the opportunity to ratify or reject the plan every three years following the date of initial shareholder approval.
Shareholder Advisory Vote
Effective with the Corporation’s 2009 Annual Meeting of Shareholders, a management proposal related to executive compensation in the form approved by the Board of Directors will be submitted annually to shareholders for a non-binding vote.