SEC pressed on climate change disclosure

A coalition of investors, US state officials and environmental groups have filed a petition with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) calling on the regulator to force companies to assess and disclose their financial risks from climate change.

The petition cites scientific evidence and regulatory developments it claims prove that the risks and opportunities many companies face in connection with climate change are material to shareholder investment decisions and must be disclosed under existing law.… Read the rest

Group founded to represent Northern Rock shareholders

The UK Shareholders Association (UKSA) has formed a group to represent the interests of ordinary shareholders in Northern Rock amid accusations that the bank failed to make required disclosures to investors about the severe financial difficulties it faced.

UKSA believes many shareholders were persuaded to invest in the company in recent months as a result of the apparent strength of the business, when in reality Northern Rock was in serious financial trouble.… Read the rest

Further ex-Nortel officials charged with fraud

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged four more former executives of Nortel Networks, the communications company, with accounting fraud. The regulator is accusing former vice-presidents of Nortel’s optical, wireline, wireless and enterprise business units of manipulating reserves to manage the company’s earnings.… Read the rest

Gulf rivals acquire almost half of LSE

Nearly 50% of the London Stock Exchange (LSE) has been purchased by rival sovereign backed firms from the Middle East.

Borse Dubai and US exchange Nasdaq have reached an agreement that will allow Nasdaq to win control of Scandinavian exchange .… Read the rest

Photo-Me chair bows to activist pressure

Vernon Sankey has stepped down as chairman of Photo-Me International with immediate effect, prompting the photo booth operator’s principal shareholders to withdraw an EGM requisition seeking his removal.

Cycladic Capital and Principle Capital were seeking the immediate removal of both Sankey and the company’s chief executive, Serge Crasnianski.… Read the rest

Four out of five companies affected by fraud

Factors such as new investors and expansion into overseas markets have opened the door to different varieties of fraud, and four out of five companies worldwide have been hit by some form of corporate fraud in the last three years, according to a survey by risk consultancy Kroll.… Read the rest

CalPERS steps up activism

CalPERS, the activist US pension fund, filed nearly double the number of shareholder proposals in 2006/07 as in the previous 12 months. What is more, all of the six CalPERS proposals that appeared on proxy ballots in the first half of 2007 received investor votes averaging over 60%.… Read the rest

Online opposition launched to SEC proxy access proposals

The Social Investment Forum (SIF) and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility have launched a website – www.SaveShareholderRights.org – as part of a campaign to oppose controversial US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposals they argue would seriously undermine investor rights.… Read the rest

Pay & Performance

Top UK companies are increasingly incorporating non-financial factors such as customer satisfaction into executive bonus plans, accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has found. PwC’s research revealed that the number of companies offering bonus plans based on purely financial measures has halved over the past year, falling from 33% in 2005/06 to 17% in 2006/07.… Read the rest

Pension fund engagement on the increase

Pension funds surveyed by the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) are working more closely with the companies they invest in to actively promote corporate governance.

More than three quarters of these funds have helped change remuneration packages, board membership or corporate strategy, and eight out of ten funds believe governance standards are continuing to improve.… Read the rest

Nasdaq abandons pursuit of LSE

 Nasdaq, the US exchange, wishes to divest its 31% stake in the London Stock Exchange (LSE). Nasdaq built up its stake earlier this year during the course of an unsuccessful takeover bid, and earlier in August backed an LSE/Borsa Italiana merger that will significantly dilute this holding.… Read the rest

One quarter of FTSE 350 audit committee reports are inadequate

Some 23% of FTSE 350 companies are not adequately reporting to shareholders on the activities of their audit committees, producing in effect little more than a summary of the committees’ terms of reference, research by the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) has found.… Read the rest