Minority shareholder rights in the spotlight

Are some European issuers trying to avoid playing fair with their minority shareholders? With the news that USS and Hermes have now tendered their Océ shares after the Enterprise Chamber of the Amsterdam Court of Appeals rejected the pension funds’ request to investigate Canon’s tender offer, shareholders might be left wondering what they can do to protect their interests.… Read the rest

US proxy season – contested elections and Euro activists

Euro investor activism at US firms continues

International pension funds appear ready to continue to pressure U.S. companies to appoint independent board chairs, a leadership structure now commonly adopted by European boards but still relatively rare in the United States. According to research by Proxy Governance  only 25% of U.S.… Read the rest

Pension funds respond to call for joined up governance

“Where were the shareholders?” has not been far from the lips of global regulators, media and the general public over the past two years. While some funds have jibbed at the idea of become more closely involved in the stewardship of their equity assets, two of the UK’s largest pension funds are taking matters into their own hands.… Read the rest

Battle for proxy reform heats up – advisors in the spotlight

RiskMetrics is to governance as Microsoft is to Internet browsers: discuss.

No, not the next MBA dissertation topic for students to grapple with – but it’s certainly worth a thought. And that’s not just Manifest’s view either. Two members of the US lobby alliance, the Shareholder Communications Coalition, have issued a discussion document looking at the role of Proxy Advisory Services.… Read the rest

CalPERS clear the decks for increased activism

The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) has signalled a move into more direct activism after a vote this week (Monday) to remove a cap on the number of shareholder proposals it can issue.

Until now, the $200 billion fund was limited was limited to 20 proposals related to executive compensation and 10 related to corporate governance each year.… Read the rest

SEBI calls for mutual fund proxy disclosures

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) this week (16/03/2010) asked mutual funds to disclose their proxy voting procedures on their websites and in their annual reports with effect from the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

Additionally it has asked funds to disclose their actual proxy votes in annual and extraordinary general meetings of investee companies in terms of changes in capital structure, stock option plans, social and corporate responsibility issues, appointment and removal of directors, merger/corporate restructuring and anti-takeover provisions.… Read the rest

US Senate reveals draft governance reforms

The US Senate has revealed its proposals to overhaul the American financial system through Senator Christopher Dodd’s “Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010”.

Across 1,336 pages the Bill outlines a series of remedies which it states will end “too big to fail” and restore responsibility and accountability to the markets.… Read the rest

Non-audit services: no change please

The Auditing Practice Board has published 137 responses to its consultation on audit firms providing non-audit services to listed companies that they audit. A consistent theme in may of the responses is a call for further transparency in disclosures in accounts of listed companies in relation to the non-audit work undertaken by the auditor.… Read the rest

Novel resolution seeks to opposition votes count

A new shareholder resolution, debuting at NYSE-listed General Electric Co.’s April 28 meeting, is asking the board to adopt a policy prohibiting any director receiving more than a 20% opposition vote from serving on a key board committee (audit, compensation or nomination) for at least two years.… Read the rest

Investors talk about their pre-season plans

London based investor relations advisor HQB Partners has released its 2010 pre-season survey of corporate governance teams at 23 leading institutional investors in the United States, the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands. In all the respondents manage assets in excess of US$ 11.1 trillion.… Read the rest