Archive for May, 2010

Shareholder Proposals at ExxonMobil, 2010

Shareholders of ExxonMobil Corp. will vote on eight resolutions concerning  the environment, human rights and diversity. The Sustainable Investments Institute (SI2), which researches organized efforts to influence corporate behavior on social and environmental issues, has published several articles examining the ExxonMobil proposals. Read SI2’s studies here.

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May 24, 2010 at 9:15 am Leave a comment

Massey Directors Narrowly Prevail

Massey Energy Co.’s slate of three directors was narrowly reelected in a shareholders’ vote, calling into question the legitimacy of the board, CtW Investment Group said.

According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek: “Baxter Phillips, Richard Gabrys and Dan Moore, members of Massey’s safety committee, were opposed by 48.5 to 49.8 percent of the shares voted at the Richmond, Virginia-based company’s annual meeting, CtW said.”

“Massey said that each of the candidates received at least 55 percent of the vote, which took place six weeks after the explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine killed 29 workers.”

“It’s an unambiguous call for new directors,” CtW spokesman Michael Garland was quoted as saying. “The vote casts a cloud over the legitimacy of this board. The onus is on the board now to name new directors.”

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, Florida State Board of Administration, AFSCME Employees Pension Plan and Christian Brothers Investment Services withheld votes from the candidates.

May 19, 2010 at 9:55 am Leave a comment

Mutual Funds Seek to Shed ‘Rubber Stamp’ Tag

“Investor activists say they are finally getting some support from the $12 trillion mutual fund industry, huge shareholders long scorned as rubber stamps for the management of companies whose shares they own,” Ross Kerber says in a report for Reuters.

“Sensitive to the issue, mutual fund executives say they have begun to demand more details and to vote more aggressively in corporate elections. … Activists hope to see the new approach reflected when the results of this season’s shareholder proxy votes are released, especially in the aftermath of the financial crisis that plunged the world economy into recession.”

ProxyDemocracy will track mutual funds’ reports of their proxy votes to see how measurable this trend is.

May 17, 2010 at 2:16 pm Leave a comment

Pensions to Withhold Votes From Massey Directors

“In the wake of last month’s tragedy at Massey Energy Co.’s Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia, the New York State Common Retirement Fund called on shareowners to withhold votes from three candidates for the company’s board of directors,” SocialFunds.com reports. “The three — Baxter F. Phillips, Richard M. Gabrys and Dan R. Moore — also serve on the board’s safety, environmental and public policy committee.”

“The disaster at Upper Big Branch, which claimed the lives of 29 miners, occurred in the aftermath of repeated environmental and safety violations by Massey, which led to at least two criminal convictions in the past three years. In addition, Massey has already reported that financial losses from Upper Big Branch could lead to losses of as much as $150 million.”

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System, which discloses its votes with ProxyDemocracy, will withhold support from the three candidates.  

Whether Massey’s two major institutional shareholders, Fidelity Investments and BlackRock Inc., will side with the dissidents is unknown,  according to Reuters. Both companies said “their voting policies were based on enhancing shareholder value,” Reuters reported. Fidelity owns about 9.5 percent of Massey’s common stock, while BlackRock holds just over 9 percent.

Massey’s annual shareholder meeting is scheduled for May 18. Check here for more vote announcements or sign up for our e-mail alerts.

May 14, 2010 at 1:41 pm Leave a comment

Investors Make Voice Heard on Pay

“Investor rebukes of executive-pay practices last week at Motorola Inc. and Occidental Petroleum Corp. mark a significant shift in the relationship between corporate boards and shareholders,” Erin White reports in the Wall Street Journal.

“The messages came via say-on-pay votes at the companies’ annual meetings. Corporate activists have been arguing for an advisory vote on executive pay for years, but such votes have only recently become commonplace thanks to Congress, which required them for companies that got federal bailout funds, and voluntary adoption by others.

“Last year, not a single major U.S. company lost a vote, despite widespread complaints over excessive pay. Some governance watchers wondered if the measures lacked teeth, or if ordinary investors just didn’t consider pay to be an issue. After the defeats at Motorola and Occidental, that has changed.”

See the full story here.

May 11, 2010 at 8:35 am Leave a comment


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