Apple faces shareholder vote over Chinese app removal policies

The shareholder proposal on freedom of expression focuses on Apple’s 2017 removal of virtual private network apps from its App Store in China. (File/AFP)
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Updated 26 February 2020

Apple faces shareholder vote over Chinese app removal policies

  • The apps allow users to bypass China’s so-called “Great Firewall” aimed at restricting access to overseas sites
  • Apple shareholders have voted down human rights measures related to China in the past

Apple Inc’s shareholders on Wednesday will vote on a proposal critical of its moves to remove apps at the request of the Chinese government and calling on the iPhone maker to report whether it has “publicly committed to respect freedom of expression as a human right.”
The proposal is one of six that will face a vote at the company’s annual shareholder meeting at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California.
The shareholder proposal on freedom of expression focuses on Apple’s 2017 removal of virtual private network apps from its App Store in China. Such apps allow users to bypass China’s so-called “Great Firewall” aimed at restricting access to overseas sites.
Apple opposes the proposal, saying it already provides extensive information about when it takes down apps at the request of governments around the world and that it follows the laws in countries where it operates.
” hile we may disagree with certain decisions at times, we do not believe it would be in the best interests of our users to simply abandon markets, which would leave consumers with fewer choices and fewer privacy protections,” Apple said in its opposition.
Proxy advisory firms Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services both recommend votes in favor the measure, according to reports from them seen by Reuters.
Apple shareholders have voted down human rights measures related to China in the past. They defeated a 2018 proposal that urged Apple to create a human rights panel to oversee issues such as workplace conditions and censorship in China, with 94.4 percent of shareholders voting against it.
Shareholders will also vote on a proposal to allow shareholders to nominate more than one director to Apple’s board and whether to tie executive compensation to environmental sustainability metrics. Apple opposes both proposals.


NMC Health’s new executive chair vows to recover misused funds

Updated 47 min 38 sec ago

NMC Health’s new executive chair vows to recover misused funds

  • London-listed NMC recently revised its debt position to $6.6 billion, much higher than earlier estimated
  • NMC’s stock has more than halved in value since December and trading in its shares was suspended in February

DUBAI: The new executive chairman of hospital operator NMC Health vowed on Saturday to work with authorities in Britain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to recover misused funds and called on the company’s creditors for a debt standstill.
Faisal Belhoul said in a statement that keeping NMC Health operating was a “national priority,” particularly as the country and the world battle the coronavirus pandemic.
Belhoul said putting the hospital operator into administration would “cause instability to the operating businesses of the NMC Group, creating additional pressure on the group’s liquidity and reducing value for all creditors.”
A temporary debt standstill, by contrast, would allow the firm to prepare and activate a recovery plan.
London-listed NMC recently revised its debt position to $6.6 billion, much higher than earlier estimated.
NMC’s stock has more than halved in value since December and trading in its shares was suspended in February. The decline was triggered by a report by short seller Muddy Waters that questioned the company’s financial statement.
Belhoul’s appointment was made after the company’s non-executive directors uncovered alleged theft and excess undisclosed borrowings by former directors of the company, the statement said.
Belhoul is a founder and chairman of Ithmar Capital Partners, which owns a 9% stake in NMC.
“We are working in full cooperation and in close dialogue with authorities in the UAE and UK, including the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and will vigorously chase down the perpetrators for return of these funds,” he said.
Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, one of more than 80 local, regional and international creditors, said last week it had over $981 million exposure to NMC Health.
NMC Health claims to be the largest private health care company in the UAE, operating more than 200 facilities, which includes hospitals, clinics and pharmacies.
“The NMC Group is currently treating hundreds of people suspected of having COVID-19 and in the UAE has screened more than 10,000 workers for the virus in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Prevention and the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization,” the statement said.