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%. This includes shareholder support of 77% for a proposal to eliminate supermajority voting requirements at Dollar Tree Stores.

As of 30 June 2007, CalPERS had filed 33 shareholder proposals, as compared to 17 for the previous year. CalPERS withdrew a number of these proposals, mostly in response to companies agreeing to adopt the proposed governance practices.

Russell Read, CalPERS chief investment officer, said: “Global activism by all investors is on the rise. There are increasing numbers of shareowner proposals, more ‘for’ votes of support for them, and ‘withhold’ votes for directors who are unresponsive to shareowners”.

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