Unlike Wikipedia, where a person’s bio can be changed with a few simple keystrokes, prompting all-out edit wars, SEC filings move quite a bit slower. Subtle changes usually take place quarterly, or even yearly, as opposed to second by second. That’s mostly because attorneys and others have to review those words to make sure that they’re both accurate and boring enough to scare all but the most hearty — we’re talking about us — from taking the time to read them.
But when we find a subtle change to a seemingly routine statement, there’s usually an interesting back-story there. Take Apple (AAPL) cutting the word community from its principles of business conduct last year. Or, more seriously, Blockbuster using the word bankruptcy for the first time.
We thought about some of those oh-so subtle changes as we were reading the proxy that MF Global (MF) filed yesterday. As we skimmed the section on Chairman and CEO Jon Corzine, we thought it was interesting that the company added this sentence about Corzine’s experience at Goldman Sachs (GS):
Mr. Corzine also initiated and led the firm’s successful decision to go public in 1998-1999, a decision which secured its permanency of capital and facilitated its expansion of global activities.
Now, maybe this is just a subtle change: making Corzine out to be the guiding light on Goldman’s decision to go public and move away from a partnership. But as we say regularly, there are no accidents in SEC filings. Everything is there for a reason. And, given this story in the NY Post earlier this week, which said that Corzine was being tapped to help President Obama on Wall Street and might be rewarded with a high-ranking job if Obama were reelected, it’s hard to chalk up this subtle addition to an over-anxious junior attorney looking to increase his (or her) billable hours. As Theo footnoted back in March, Corzine’s latest employment contract with MF even has a generous escape clause if he winds up back in public office.
Of course, those looking for changes to Corzine’s bio in real time, would be better served to check Wikipedia. Judging by the history, it’s not quite an edit war, but it moves a lot more quickly than the typical SEC filing.
Image source: Corzine campaign website
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