Australian governance disclosures improve says ASX

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) has published its latest analysis of reporting against the ASX Corporate Governance Council’s Principles and Recommendations and finds that companies and trusts are continuing to improve their corporate governance reporting.

ASX’s supervision subsidiary, ASX Markets Supervision (ASXMS), reviewed the FY08 annual reports of 1,510 listed entities that reported with a 30 June year end date, representing  approximately 72% of all listed entities.… Read the rest

Audit committees: earnings management fears

Nine out of ten audit committee members say that the recession has increased the risk of earnings management and other misconduct – and yet fraud risk was the issue committees felt they were least effective at overseeing.

Research by KPMG’s Audit Committee Institute amongst 1,000 audit committee members in 25 countries has found that the economic downturn has caused them to reappraise many fundamental processes, including the external audit itself.… Read the rest

UK Government implements Shareholders’ Rights Directive

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has this week announced The Companies (Shareholders’ Rights) Regulations 2009 (to come into force on August 3rd), signalling completion of the final legislative stage of the European Shareholders’ Rights Directive. The Directive began life as a proposal and consultation by the European Commission back in 2004 and had been through many different forms and changes before adoption at the European level in 2007.… Read the rest

Press Update: Marks & Spencer

The governance issues raised by the Marks & Spencer AGM and Manifest’s analysis of the outcome received broad coverage in the UK press and broadcast media. In addition to newspaper coverage, Manifest was asked for its input on BBC Radio 5 Live’s “Wake Up to Money” and BBC Radio 4’s flagship current affairs program, “Today”.… Read the rest

M&S – qualified victories all round

The LAPFF took their place in the governance history books today. Although they failed to come close to the super-majority needed to have their resolution calling for an independent chair passed, they have achieved a remarkable result. Taking into account the abstain votes, total dissent is practically double the highest previously recorded for a FTSE 100 company since Manifest started collecting such data in 1996.… Read the rest

Bob Monks asks: “How do you accommodate private power and public good?”

Governance veteran Bob Monks recently attended the London Business School’s Colloquium on Corporate Governance, an invitation-only event comprising 75 of the leading governmental, private sector business and investors in the UK who convened to consider recent governance failings.

Bob was asked to present the key note address at the opening night dinner. … Read the rest

Citywire: M&S set for angry protest over executive pay

Resolution 8 at today’s AGM covers the re-election of Louise Patten, chair of the remuneration committee, who has overseen the unpopular payouts of the performance/retention awards.

‘These are clearly retention awards, not exceptional awards and they should have just been honest and said so,’ says Manifest’s Wilson.… Read the rest

FT: Tesco feels investor ire

….Investors are increasingly strident about pay following criticism that they had been soft on boards and had sanctioned the excessive bonuses blamed for the banking crisis. Voting advisers have highlighted investor concerns about pay at other businesses, including Marks and Spencer and BT, the telecoms company.… Read the rest

Tesco rebuked by shareholders

Tesco’s AGM today saw the largest against vote (41.03%) against a share plan at a FTSE 100 company since Manifest began collecting voting data in 1996. When analysed including abstentions, it was the largest rebellion in the FTSE 100 in 2009 and the biggest since Royal Dutch Shell in May 2008.… Read the rest

Rebellions at 3 UK general meetings

Three AGMs have this week seen shareholder dissent reach notable levels.

Home Retail Group shareholders voted to approve the remuneration report, but dissent represented the fifth biggest rebellion on the remuneration report in the FTSE 100 so far in 2009. Total dissent of 40.49% was split between against 32.99% and abstentions 7.5%.… Read the rest

18 Japanese companies disclose AGM voting results

Some 18 Japanese companies are known to have disclosed the results of their 2009 AGMs on their corporate websites, in what is an improvement from two companies on 2008 according to Sumitomo Trust. Japanese regulators are expected to introduce a rule on disclosure of proxy voting results ahead of Japan’s 2010 AGM season.… Read the rest

UK pension funds & governance – more oversight?

In response to the widespread criticism from government and media over the role of investors in the financial crisis, the UK’s National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) has released research which show that just under half  (49%) of its bigger pension scheme members will spend more time scrutinising the actions of their fund managers on engagement issues.… Read the rest