Australian pension funds are adopting responsible investment finds RIAA

RIAA Benchmark 2016

Most of the largest Australian superannuation (super) pension funds are adopting some form of  responsible investment according to a survey by the Responsible Investment Association of Australasia (RIAA).

The RIAA said its  Superfund Responsible Investment Benchmarking Report  involved a detailed assessment and survey of the largest 50 superfunds in Australia which accounts for around $1.3 trillion of assets under management.… Read the rest

Tense Australian proxy voting season

Shareholders of Australian companies are showing their muscle in this year’s proxy season with significant opposition votes over the governance of retailer Harvey Norman and a rejection of executive pay at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

The Australian Shareholders Association has called on the chairman of  Harvey Norman, Gerry Harvey, to resign and for an independent non-executive director to replace him.… Read the rest

Ardent Leisure’s AGM held days after theme park fatalities

Ardent Leisure Logo

Australian entertainments group, Ardent Leisure, held its AGM just two days after an accident at its theme park Dreamworld in which four people died and two children were injured on a river rapids ride. The out-going chairman, Neil Banaves, offered sincere condolences to the victims and their families but said that despite the seriousness of the incident they were still required to convene the AGM as planned.… Read the rest

Proxy Votes: Mortgage Choice Chairman loses it

Peter Ritchie

Mortgage Choice (ASX:MOC) chairman, Peter Ritchie, has resigned abruptly, raging at proxy advisors for “damaging Australian business” after another bruising shareholder revolt at last week’s AGM.

Close to 80% of the Australian firm’s independent shareholders voted against the remuneration report, the third such vote, leading Ritchie to blame the outcome on analysts.… Read the rest

Singapore tops 2016 Asian corporate governance rankings

CG Watch 2016, a survey of 12 major Asia-Pacific markets and 1,027 Asian companies has ranked Singapore as Asia’s top corporate governance (CG) performer followed by Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, India, Korea, China, Philippines and Indonesia.

The biennial survey of Asian markets was carried out by brokerage and investment group CLSA in collaboration with the the Asian Corporate Governance Association (ACGA ) and while Australia was included in the research it was excluded in the market rankings  so as not to skew past results as its CG score was significantly higher than top- ranked Singapore. … Read the rest

Australian Institute of Company Directors calls for direct voting at AGMs

The Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) is supporting reforms of the traditional company AGM system. The Australian federal government’s consultation has just ended on proposals to allow electronic forms of communication as the default method of providing shareholders with the notice of meetings and for proxy materials and meeting papers to be accessed on company websites.… Read the rest

Remuneration looks set to be an issue at upcoming UK AGMs

With the peak AGM season taking place in the next two months, Manifest’s analysis suggests investors may be concerned about the remuneration practices at  some of the UK’s biggest companies holding their AGMs on 14th April.

Mining company, Rio Tinto – listed in the UK and Australia – has also been struggling in the past year due to the unfavourable market conditions for metals and minerals.… Read the rest

Australia moves to kill off show of hands for AGM voting

Shareholders in Australian companies are now more likely to have their votes taken on a poll by default instead of the traditional show of hands. Two-thirds of companies targeted by a global collaborative investor initiative have moved towards using polls, according to the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI).… Read the rest

Ferrovial faces backlash over proposed takeover of Australian firm Broadspectrum

Australian human rights campaigners are warning investors of the risks Spanish multinational infrastructure operator, Ferrovial, could face if its takeover bid of Australian firm Broadspectrum is approved. This company  is the Australian government’s lead contractor in the operation of its controversial offshore detention centres (ODCs) in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.… Read the rest

Investors pay high price for Australian CEO departures

Nearly $A30 million in payouts to departing chief executives (CEOs) helped to increase the pay of the 300 highest-earning Australian CEOs by 5%, who for the first time will receive an average pay packet of more than $3 million a year, according to The Australian Financial Review Salary Survey 2015.… Read the rest

Australian shareholders ask for easier resolution procedures

The Australian federal government has mooted a draft bill which, if it succeeds, will remove the right of a 100 shareholders to call an extraordinary general meeting (EGM).

According to the announcement from Mathias Cormann, acting assistant treasurer, the draft bill contains proposed changes to the Australian corporations act that are aimed at removing “unnecessary regulation and clarify existing regulatory obligations.”

The key proposals of the Bill will, if passed have the following impact on quoted companies:

  • remove the obligation to hold a general meeting on the request of 100 shareholders;
  • require companies to include a general description of their remuneration governance framework, to the extent that it is not included elsewhere in the annual report;
  • remove the requirement to disclose the value of options granted to key management personnel, replacing it with a requirement to disclose the number of lapsed options and the year in which they were granted;
  • relieve certain disclosing entities from the obligation to prepare a remuneration report;
  • make amendments to the test for payment of dividends;
  • improve the efficiency of the Takeovers Panel, by allowing the Panel to perform Panel functions while overseas;
  • clarify the ability of directors to vary their financial year by up to 7 days, regardless of the length of previous years.
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Disqualifications of James Hardie directors overturned

The NSW Court of Appeal has overturned the decision of the NSW Supreme Court in respect of seven directors who had received bans on serving as directors. The Supreme Court had found that they had breached their duties to the company (James Hardie)  in 2001 over a misleading media release about asbestos compensation.… Read the rest