Financial Week - Broker vote zaps shareholder might: Activists say retail brokerages provided majorities for WaMu directors; NYSE rule change still MIA. [Jeff Nash, April 28, 2008]
"The controversial practice of broker voting is once again in the spotlight, thanks to Washington Mutual's highly contentious annual shareholder meeting earlier this month."Christian Science Monitor - Proxy ballots: your chance to make a difference Don't toss that envelope. Shareholder resolutions address issues ranging from executive pay to human rights. [Steve Dinnen, April 28, 2008]
"With this year's proxy season in full swing, investors are demanding an explanation of loans that not only hurt home buyers but also trashed the balance sheets of many companies that provided the funds.
"CtW Investment Group, for one, is suggesting that union pension plans it advises vote against certain directors of huge financial-services concerns tied to the foreclosure crisis."
Posted byon April 28, 2008 1:56 PM
Shanny Basar of Financial News writes:
“Merrill Lynch is proposing that from next year all board members are elected annually for one-year terms following a campaign led by CtW Investment Group, an umbrella body representing union pension funds, against banks that have written down billions of dollar related to the credit crisis.
“In January, CtW Investment Group had written to four Merrill directors asking them to describe what they did to protect shareholders from excessive mortgage-related risk over the past two years.”
Posted byon April 25, 2008 10:08 AM
From a Merrill Lynch press release (April 24, 2008):
"The Board of Directors regularly reviews its governance practices to ensure it is operating efficiently, effectively, and in the best interests of shareholders," said John Thain, chairman and chief executive officer.
"In discussions with investors, including recent conversations with CtW Investment Group, we have shared the board's growing consensus that annual director elections are becoming a best practice. Today the board agreed to move to this approach next year. Annual director elections will ensure that our investors have a regular opportunity to express their confidence in the performance of the board and management."
Posted byon April 25, 2008 9:42 AM
Yesterday both the California Public Employees' Retirement System and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System announced executive shake-ups.
At CalPERS, the Chief Investment Officer Russell Read announced he was leaving, to “pursue his long-standing interest in investing in companies that are developing environmentally friendly technologies,” Read will be replaced for the interim by Anne Stausboll, CalPERS Chief Operating Investment Officer.
CalSTRS yesterday announced that it had appointed a new head of corporate governance.
Michael McCauley comes from the Florida State Board of Administration and currently co-chairs CII’s International Corporate Governance Committee as well as serving as a member of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board’s Standing Advisory Group.
McCauley will help CalSTRS expand their engagement with “international corporate governance issues and examining the relationship between executive compensation and corporate performance.”
Posted byon April 24, 2008 9:59 AM
In a piece today in the New York Post, Kaja Whitehouse reports that “letters are pouring in to WaMu Chairman Kerry Killinger and other board members” on the broker vote issue.
She reports: “Among those crying foul are pension funds from California, Florida, New Jersey and North Carolina, including the granddaddy of all pension funds, the $255 billion California Public Employees Retirement System and the $80 billion New Jersey Division of Investment.
“Several union pension funds are leading the charge, and the Council of Institutional Investors, which represents 140 public, private and union pension funds, is also drafting a letter on this issue, to be released today.”
Posted byon April 24, 2008 9:46 AM