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U.S. securities regulators have been all over the map in recent years when it comes to setting priorities and getting necessary rules in the hands of those who need to follow them. Certainly, that has been the principal problem for the Sarbanes-Oxley Act–and particularly Section 404–in its first years. But besides the long-overdue guidance now coming out of both the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) on 404, regulators this year seem ready to go beyond the outline of the priorities they provide companies annually. In a speech delivered late last week called “The Promise of Transparency — Corporation Finance in 2007,” John W. White, the SEC’s director of the division of corporation finance, listed 11 initiatives in various forms of development on which his division is working. Several involve rulemaking changes– such as foreign deregistrations, Section 404 management guidance, online availability of proxy materials and executive compensation disclosures–that are pending or already completed. But there are several others, such as new rulemaking for shareholder access to corporate proxies, on which the SEC staff is still hard at work developing proposals.

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