Could US shareholders accelerate proxy reforms through by-laws?

Could shareholders accelerate the pace of regulatory reform at US companies by taking matters into their own hands? Probably not says the Council of Institutional Investors and Shareowners.org.

According to a new report commissioned by the leading US investor body, The Council of Institutional Investors (CII) the idea that owners could enable proxy access at implementing at individual companies by submitting proposals and approving bylaw (Articles of Association) changes is “fraught with obstacles”.… Read the rest

SEBI points the way to increased activisim in India

Shareholder activism in Indian companies is a relative rarity in comparison to what is now considered the norm in developed countries. The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the capital market regulator in India, believes its domestic mutual funds have a bigger role in public shareholder activism and with the introduction of new regulations wants to see a step-change in attitudes and behaviour.… Read the rest

Pension fund trustees: a wake-up call on climate change

This month’s guest article is by Professor Jill Solomon, Department of Management, King’s College London

There is global scientific consensus that climate change is progressing far more rapidly and with far greater severity than previously anticipated. Climate change is a critical issue for business, for financial institutions and not least for the pension fund industry.… Read the rest

Canada “too busy” for governance reform

The Canadian Securities Administrators have decided that companies are too busy to comply with the proposed corporate governance changes published last December.

The CSA is a council of the securities regulators of Canada’s provinces and territories which co-ordinates and harmonizes regulation for the Canadian capital markets.… Read the rest

Companies upset by Australian remuneration report rebellions

The nickel producer and explorer, Western Areas, saw its remuneration report defeated at its AGM on 6 November, as Australia’s stormy AGM season continues.The voting saw 52.5% vote against with a further 2.3% in abstentions. Four other remuneration-related resolutions were withdrawn in light of overwhelming opposition (by more than 2 to 1) from those voting by proxy ahead of the meeting.… Read the rest

Executive pay restraint urged

The NAPF has written to the Chairmen of all FTSE 350 companies urging executive pay restraint and making it clear that company remuneration should be aligned with the long-term interests of shareholders, including pension funds. The letter suggests that a review of accepted best practice is warranted as it ‘serves neither shareholders nor management well’.… Read the rest

Australia’s proposed ‘Two Strikes Rule’ on pay faces opposition

We noted last month that Australia’s Productivity Commission had released a detailed discussion document which included a package of suggested changes to the Corporations Act and ASX listing rules. Over 50 submissions were made to the Commission following the publication of the discussion document and before last Friday’s deadline.… Read the rest

South Korea considers Poison Pills

The Korean Justice Ministry stated this week that Korea has ‘made hostile M&A attacks easy by removing a ceiling on foreign stock investments, but it has not had any means to prevent hostile M&A’. It has announced public hearings to consider proposals to provide for the use of poison pills.… Read the rest

US proposes creation of its own “FSA”, new shareholder rights

According to the Chinese calendar, 2010 will be the Year of the Tiger. It will also be the “the year of regulation” for the financial world. Adding to the reading pile is US Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd’s mammoth proposals to overhaul the US financial regulatory system. … Read the rest

EuropeanIssuers calls for custody fees transparency

EuropeanIssuers, the pan-European organisation representing listed companies across Europe, has reminded the European Commission (EC) about the need for fee transparency amongst custodians.

The Brussels-based industry body, representing issuers in over 14 countries counting together some 9,200 listed companies with a combined market value of some € 4,500 billion responded to the EC consultation on “Market Standards for Corporate Actions Processing” in the summer, outlining that the benefits of the harmonisation of corporate actions processing would be reduced costs for investors and issuers: “In a competitive environment, the achieved cost savings should bring down the fees throughout the entire value [ownership] chain: CSDs, CCPs, stock exchanges, banks and custodians”.… Read the rest

FRC urges caution on bundled audits

The UK’s Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has warned against companies signing up for “bundled audits” pending completion of a review into the ethical questions surrounding their use.

As we reported in August, the downturn has encouraged the development of a new type of audit which blends internal and external audit.… Read the rest

New Zealand stirs the pot with “Head nodders, smart arses & good, competent folk”

Strewth, our antipodean friends don’t mince their words. Or very specifically, New Zealand’s Business Day blogger, Bruce Sheppard doesn’t.

As the Southern proxy season comes to a close (for our research team that is), we’ve been reflecting on the direct and blunt approach the Australian and NZ market observers have been taking.… Read the rest