WASHINGTON -- The Business Roundtable blasted a Securities and Exchange Commission rule that it says allows dissident shareholders to solicit institutional support for proxy fights before making a public disclosure.

"Given the huge concentration of equity holdings in the hands of a relatively small number of institutional investors, the ball game could be over, as a practical matter, before anyone else even knew there was to be a contest," said Bruce Atwater, chairman of the roundtable's corporate governance task force.

Mr. Atwater, chairman of General Mills, said the SEC continued to act as if individual shareholders are dominant, despite the rise of institutions.

The roundtable, a group of top CEOS, generally applauded another SEC action last week that set disclosure rules for executive compensation.

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