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Welcome to Manifest-I the blog of Manifest Information Services Ltd. Here we take a wide ranging view of topical governance and stewardship issues. Please feel free to add your comments and join the debate. Sign up to receive free weekly updates.

Manifest is a signatory of the Best Practice Principles for Shareholder Voting Research

Delivering Diverse Viewpoints

In the pursuit of secure investment returns, diverse viewpoints based on high-quality data and varied information are critical for portfolio construction. We believe that share ownership is no different. Manifest intelligently navigates the complexities of global governance and voting delivering actionable and defensible stewardship insights.

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Shareholder advisors group announces review of its best practice principles

The charter signatories to the Best Practice Principles for Shareholder Voting Research & Analysis (the BPP Group), which includes Manifest, will review its principles by the end of 2017 following a public consultation overseen by Chris Hodge, the new independent chairman of the BPP Group’s review committee.… Read the rest

UK’s FRC asks for more governance powers

Stephen Haddrill

The UK’s Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has argued that it needs more powers to take enforcement action against directors so that it can investigate and prosecute all directors for financial reporting breaches and associated issues of integrity, rather than only accountants and actuaries as at present in its response to the government’s green paper on corporate governance.… Read the rest

UK Church Investors Group warn on CEO pay

Church Investors Group CEO pay warning

The Church Investors Group (CIG) has written to all FTSE 350 company secretaries outlining its revised voting policy for 2017 which includes a tough stance on executive pay. The CIG brings together the major church-based institutional investors and with their combined assets of approximately £ 17 billion aims to increase their impact through the joint voting policy.… Read the rest

Dimon takes chair of governance hawks, BRT

Jamie Dimon

As US Republicans accelerate their plans to dismantle much of the Dodd Frank regulatory framework, Jamie Dimon, chairman and chief executive (CEO) of JPMorgan Chase, has been appointed as the next chairman of the US  issuer lobby, Business Roundtable (BRT).

BRT’s members are the chief executives of the largest American companies; together with the US Chamber of Commerce, BRT has actively campaigned to roll back shareholder rights and reduce governance standards.… Read the rest

SEC proposes universal proxy cards

US SEC improves shareholder democarcy

In a move to improve shareholder democracy the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has proposed that universal proxy cards be introduced that allow investors to vote for directors as they would if they attended the company’s annual general meeting. However, one of the Commissioner, Michael Piwowar, has expressed his opposition to the proposal claiming that the changes pander to special interests.… 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

Prominent ESG investor objects to US legislators' plans to curb proxy advisers

BlackRock climate change

Walden Asset Management has added its voice to those criticising the proposed Corporate Governance Reform and Transparency Act of 2016 (HR 5311) passed last month by the US House of Representatives’ Finance Services Committee.

In a letter to  Jeb Hensarling the chairman and Maxine Waters, a member of the committee the ESG-focused asset manager Walden agreed with other opponents of the bill believing that it undermined proxy voting providers whose services provided research and guided the proxy voting decisions of institutional investors.… Read the rest

US investors and companies are engaging more and seeing value in corporate governance

Institutional investors in the US are increasingly viewing corporate governance as more than just a compliance exercise but also about an ownership responsibility tied to investment value and risk mitigation, according to Ernst & Young’s (EY) analysis of the 2016 proxy season.… 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

US remuneration committee chairs get less support after losing say on pay votes, study finds

Executive pay firm, Semler Brossey, has analysed the relationship between the shareholder support given in elections of remuneration committee members and chairs and the result of the say on pay votes at US company AGMs.

The study of director election results between 2014 and 2016 found that over 80% of director elections have received vote support above 95% and only 0.3% of elections have failed to receive majority support (107 out of 42,499 total elections).… Read the rest

Single Figure Calculations prove tricky for Legal & General

The insurer and institutional investor Legal & General plc (L&G), had to correct its annual report pay figures for chief executive, Nigel Wilson, on the eve of its AGM last week (26th May).

L&G, whose investment division LGIM is active in corporate governance issues, admitted that awards from Wilson’s 2012 performance share plan had not been included because originally they had looked at the 2016 exercise date rather than when they vested in 2015.… Read the rest

US legislators consider role of proxy voting firms

US legislators held a hearing recently (17th May) which considered possible bills which they believe would improve US financial transparency, regulation and capital market formation, including a proposal “To improve the quality of proxy advisory firms for the protection of investors and the U.S.Read the rest