Public funds taking the lead in spectacular boom of ESG

Another possible factor in the Business Roundtable’s new commitment to stakeholders — greenwashing. Double- and even triple-digit growth in the amount of U.S. institutional assets in ESG investments shows no sign of slowing down, and public pension funds are leading the way. Sustainable, responsible and impact investing assets reached $12 trillion in early 2018, according…

A Win in Proxy Fight for Universal Proxy Card

For the first time, a dissident shareholder group won board control in a proxy contest using a “universal proxy card” that included the names of both the company’s and the dissident’s slates. The battle for a majority of the board seats at EQT Corporation was waged by brothers Toby and Derek Rice, whose November 2017…

CEOs Adopt “Stakeholder” Goals: Business Roundtable

A new statement from the Business Roundtable commits to stakeholder interests instead of making the primary purpose of the company shareholder value. We have some concerns.  And a strong sense of deja vu. The last time the BRT was excited about stakeholders it was during the era of hostile takeovers, and a feint to the…

The SEC should not limit the right of investors to sponsor shareholder resolutions: Guest Post from Timothy Smith, Walden Asset Management

The U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) has just announced its plans to present a revised Rule that will limit the ability of investors to file shareholder resolutions for votes at company stockholder meetings. This comes amidst a concerted effort by certain business groups to sharply limit shareholders’ ability to exercise these rights as owners of…

A $750 Billion Midwest Fund Group Pushes for Board Diversity – Bloomberg

A group of 11 pension and union funds with a collective $750 billion in assets has picked up the mantle [on board diversity in small and mid-size companies]. Called the Midwest Investor Diversity Initiative, the group, which includes the United Auto Workers Retiree Medical Benefits Trust, the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office and the Ohio Public…

U.S. SEC to consider new guidance on investor use of proxy advisors – Reuters

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Tuesday said it would hold a meeting next week on whether to publish new guidance regarding the responsibilities of investors when relying on so-called proxy advisors.The proposal comes amid a push by the corporate lobby to rein in proxy advisors, which recommend how investors should vote in…

Executive Compensation: The Role of Public Company Shareholders

Barbara Novick of BlackRock, Inc., one of the largest and most powerful institutional investors in the world, wrote about CEO pay and the role of shareholders. Of particular note is her assessment of proxy advisors, making it clear that proxy advisor clients appreciate the analysis and recommendations but have their own views. Proxy advisors are…

A Catch 22 for Asset Managers

Jasmin Sethi writes about the impact of concentrated voting power and calls for better disclosure of the exercise of ownership rights: The big three—BlackRock, State Street, and Vanguard—are victims of their own size. As they have increased their assets under management, they have also increased their voting power as typically they vote the shares for…