Funds fail to direct manager voting

Most investment managers are voting proxies without guidance from clients, according to a new survey released this week by the Canadian Shareholder Association for Research and Education. In its annual proxy survey, SHARE reports that 71% of investment managers say that they vote most of their pension fund clients’ proxies at their own discretion, without instructions or guidance from their clients.… Read the rest

US pay peer group trends revealed

An analysis of company-selected compensation peer groups at S&P 500 companies reveals some clear favorites. 3M Co. tops the list, selected as a peer by 11% of the 374 companies that disclosed in their 2009 annual proxy statements a peer group of up to 35 companies.… Read the rest

Japan proposes new governance disclosures

Japan’s Financial Services Agency has announced draft regulations aimed at improving corporate governance disclosures.

With effect from March 31st 2010, companies will be required to disclose a detailed breakdown of individual pay for each executive earning more than ¥100 million ($1.1 million).… Read the rest

Shareholders vs Indiana States Law

Ball Corp, an Indiana-incorporated company, has faced shareholder proposals in four of the past five years (2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009) to declassify its board. In each year, despite board opposition, the proposal received majority support from shareholders voting for and against.… Read the rest

Océ shareholders call for inquiry

Leading UK pension investors Hermes and Universities Superannuation Scheme have asked the Dutch Enterprise Chamber to intervene in the Canon-Océ takeover deal. The funds, which collectively own 5.1% of the company have called for an investigation into the negotiations between Canon and Océ about the tender offer for Océ shares and subsequent events.… Read the rest

Escalating pay – shareholders and NEDs to blame says Myners

Shareholders are getting used to Lord Myners, the UK’s Financial Services Secretary, exhorting them to act responsibly, but his speech at the National Association of Pension Funds recent corporate governance seminar reveals some new insights.

Drawing on remuneration surveys from both sides of the Atlantic, Myners noted that in as little as a decade, executive pay multipliers have grown from 50 to over 80 times the average worker’s salary in the UK and 20 times to 250 times in the US (albeit over different time frames).… Read the rest

US investors demand say on pay

Thirty US investors representing assets over $1 billion to have written to 17 financial companies asking for a say on pay this proxy season. The letter, addressed to addressed to the CEO and Chairs of the Compensation and Governance Committees of the companies, was coordinated by Walden Asset Management and the State of Connecticut Treasurer’s Office.… Read the rest

Brussels turns attention to unfair ‘tying’ practices in Financial Services

With shareholder engagement moving ever higher up the (potentially) regulatory and market best practice agenda, voting is likewise coming under the spotlight. In recent days, we have seen the unexpected result of the Infineon AGM provoke concerns about ‘irregularities in the voting process’.… Read the rest

Blizzard of US Climate Change Proposals Set for 2010

After setting a new high-water mark in 2009 in terms of US shareholder proposals (more than five dozen) and support (one majority vote and three others exceeding 40% of the votes cast), proponents of climate change resolutions are gearing up for an even bigger 2010 proxy season.… Read the rest

Novartis – Vasella’s bonus doesn’t compute

Manifest has released it’s first executive remuneration analysis using the Obermatt Bonus Index. The analysis of Swiss-quoted Novartis shows that former CEO Daniel Vasella’s received a bonus in 2009 almost three times the amount he would have been due based on the relative earnings growth of the company’s peer universe.… Read the rest