Morningstar slams hidden backers behind anti-ESG campaign | Portfolio Adviser

Jackie Cook speaks to Portfolio Advisor about the CEO funded fake dark money front group, Main Street Investors Coalition. Their claim to “represent” individual investors is, as we’ve pointed out many times, completely bogus as not one single actual advocate for investors has endorsed or joined them.

Morningstar has slammed an anti-environmental, social and governance (ESG) group attempting to undermine shareholders’ rights by giving more prominence to board recommendations and management proposals as the US regulator reviews the proxy process.

A preliminary agenda for a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) roundtable scheduled for 15 November will focus on the voting process, retail investor participation, and proxy advisory firms.

Morningstar director Jackie Cook says the lobby group Main Street Investors Coalition, which states it represents retail investors but has many corporate backers, appears to have influenced the agenda, particularly on issues such as thresholds for filing and re-submission as well as the role of proxy advisory firms.The US regulator will examine, for example, whether shareholders must own more than the current $2,000 or 1% of a company’s stock for one year to submit a proposal. It will also reexamine current threshold of votes required before a proposal can be resubmitted at a future meeting. These are currently 3%, 6%, or 10% depending on how many times an issue has been voted on in the last five years.

Main Street Investors Coalition says on its website that it represents the $16.9trn pool of capital held by retail investors, which represents 30% of all US shareholdings. “That means we control the single largest pool of equity capital in the world. It’s time for our voices to be heard, and our agenda to be adopted,” the website says.

It argues institutional investors should not be engaging with companies on issues such as climate change, gender diversity on boards of directors and, in a swipe at Blackrock, gun safety, stating this should be limited to ESG investors. It also rubbishes claims these funds are working in the financial interests of investors.

But in comments made to Portfolio Adviser, Cook said the group’s main backer is the National Association of Manufacturers and related conservative business lobby groups like the US Chamber of Commerce and the Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness.

Source: Morningstar slams hidden backers behind anti-ESG campaign | Portfolio Adviser

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