Law on ‘unfair remuneration’ one step closer in Switzerland

The Swiss Council of States (the upper house of the Swiss Federal Assembly) has discussed an amendment to Swiss company law in an attempt to encourage Thomas Minder to withdraw his proposed referendum to insert provisions on directors pay into the Swiss Constitution.… Read the rest

Stewardship Code – FairPensions starts benchmarking

Responsible investment charity FairPensions has published the first comprehensive analysis of  the UK’s leading asset managers’ approach to the Stewardship Code. Despite “encouraging signs of improvement”, FairPensions’ research reveals that 41% of the asset managers fail to publicly disclose information relating to their engagement activities and just 31% provide detailed explanations of their engagements.… Read the rest

Report on French Code shows increase in CAC40 combined Chair/CEOs

AFEP-MEDEF has released their second annual report on the application of the French Corporate Governance Code (AFEP-MEDEF Code) by companies in the SBF 120 index. The report highlights an increase from 34% to 40% in the percentage of companies in the CAC 40 where the roles of Chairman and CEO are combined.… Read the rest

French President takes away voting rights of foreign shareholders

French Company Law now has  a further measure which French companies can use to block dissident shareholders from using their influence at general meetings of shareholders. On 8 December 2010, the French President signed into law an an amendment to the Commercial Code, one part of which inserts three additional sections relating to voting at general meetings.… Read the rest

Regulators help investors who help themselves

The British, or should that be the English, and in particular those living South of the M25, have developed a bit of a reputation in recent years. Well probably many reputations. What we’re thinking of is their inclination to be reticent about speaking their mind on issues which aggravate them.… Read the rest

All our Christmases come at once?

The European Commission this week published a summary of the responses to its Green Paper on Corporate Governance in Financial Institutions.

The paper revealed some not so surprising results when it comes to views about the role of institutional investors: many want to see mandatory disclosure of voting policies and records; there’s a widespread desire for a European stewardship code; firm support for greater transparency on shareholders registers; despite the Shareholders Rights Directive, there’s still consistent reference to reducing costs, removing legal obstacles and regulatory barriers to active engagement; and calls for the regulation of proxy voting agencies.… Read the rest

Re-defining CSR disclosure

The European Commission has been busily working on responsible investment issues in recent weeks, culminating in two documents: A consultation on “Disclosure of Non-Financial Information by Companies” and a summary of responses to their green paper on corporate governance in financial institutions (see later blog piece).… Read the rest

US proxy reform: It’s completely broke, please fix it!

“The investing community desires change”. Not something we weren’t aware of, surely? However, when it’s a summary of the almost unanimous response to the most comprehensive regulatory review of the US proxy system the SEC has undertaken  in 30 years, this finding is  highly significant.… Read the rest

Vote tapping – how confidential are your votes?

British readers will be familiar with the mounting scandal surrounding alleged phone tapping at the News of the World when Andy Coulson, the Prime Minister’s communications director was the paper’s editor. The UK, in common with many nations takes personal and data privacy very seriously, and rightly so.… Read the rest

CalPERS proposes changes to approach on engagement

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System has proposed changes to the strategy used for developing its annual ‘Focus List.” The revised approach would change the targeted companies from the Russell 1000 to CalPERS top 500 domestic equity holdings. In addition, it would provide that governance would become a secondary factor to performance.… Read the rest

Carbon reporting – UK plcs fail to make the grade

The carbon footprint reporting of the UK’s top 100 listed companies is highly variable claims Deloitte and only a handful of companies come close to complying with current UK government guidance [1]. According to Deloitte’s analysis, published today, many companies failed to make basic disclosures around the reporting methodology used, or accounting principles applied, highlighting a lack of transparency around measurement principles and reporting of carbon footprints.… Read the rest

The value of collective engagement – what’s the academic evidence?

One of the key benefits of an active network like the corporate governance community is that the ever increasing reading pile gets shared around. Jim McRitchie, the noted US corporate governance blogger has done all of us a timely favour with a round up of a number of key academic papers investigating the efficacy of shareholder engagement.… Read the rest