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Apple loosens shareholder rules for nominating independent board candidates

Apple is making it easier for shareholders to nominate independent candidates for election to its board of directors, although the company is still maintaining some tough limits, a report said on Friday.

In a late-Thursday securities filing, Apple opened up proxy access rules to allow re-nominating candidates regardless of how much support they've had in prior elections, Reuters said. Until this week, shareholders were unable to nominate anyone who picked up less than 25 percent of votes at the company's past two shareholders meetings.

Apple has also extended a deadline for nominating shareholders and director candidates, and restricted the board to a unilateral interpretation of some provisions.

The shareholder who pressed for such changes, James McRitchie, is hoping that more will be made after a proposal of his is voted on at Apple's next shareholder meeting in early 2017. These include eliminating the 20-shareholder cap on the number of people needed to reach 3 percent of stock, the threshold at which a group can put forward a candidate. McRitchie is also hoping that investors will be able to nominate up to two directors, instead of just one.

In October the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rejected an Apple motion to exclude McRitchie's proposal, saying that it was "unable to conclude" existing policies were comparable, as Apple had argued.

McRitchie told Reuters that Apple hasn't approached him about a compromise. That could imply that Apple expects the proposal to be defeated now that some partial measures have been adopted.