The board of directors of PHH Corp. has approved a confidential voting policy for shareholders.
In the future, votes cast by shareholders will be kept a secret from the officers and directors of the corporation. Under the system recently approved, an independent party will tabulate votes and only the outcome of the proxy voting will be released, according to Peter Brinch, a company spokesman.
"PHH will not know how shareholders are voting on issues raised in a proxy," he said.
The Hunt Valley-based PHH provides businesses with integrated management services and cost-control programs.
PHH's annual meeting is scheduled for Aug. 26. Election of directors is on the agenda.
Brinch said the decision by PHH's board to change its voting procedure was not prompted by any particular event or because of pressure from a national shareholders' rights group.
"The decision to change was prompted by the times," he said. "It was just in the best interest of our shareholders."
The action was applauded by the the Washington-based United Shareholders Association, which removed PHH from a list of 50 companies it has been targeting to encourage confidential voting procedures. The other companies aren't located in the Baltimore area.
"Confidential voting is especially critical during proxy contests, when the stakes are highest and the pressure on shareholders to vote a certain way is particularly intense," said Ralph V. Whitworth, USA president.