Investors register protest over BP’s safety committee chairman

43% of votes against Castell – CBIS

Investors demonstrated their frustration with oil major BP’s response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill at its annual general meeting yesterday.

Some 43% of shareholder votes at the bruising AGM abstained or voted against Safety, Ethics and Environmental Assurance Committee chairman Sir William Castell, according to the Christian Brothers Investment Services.

CBIS, the US-based Catholic socially responsible investing firm with around $4bn in assets under management, had coordinated a protest vote by a group of US and international investors. Proxy firm Glass Lewis had also recommended voting against Castell, who also chairs the Wellcome Trust charity foundation. It’s known that CalPERS, the Florida State Board of Administration and Norway’s KLP also voted against Castell.
And 25% abstained or voted against the company’s remuneration report, while 15% abstained or voted against its report and accounts; 15% abstained or votedagainst BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg.

In 2010, just 1% withheld support from the report and accounts.

“As demonstrated by the weak vote for Sir William Castell, investors obviously have serious doubts about the effectiveness of the Safety, Ethics and Environmental Assurance Committee,” said Julie Tanner, Assistant Director of Socially Responsible Investing at CBIS, who travelled to London specifically to attend the AGM.

She said she was heartened by CEO Bob Dudley’s commitment at the AGM to try to find an independent expert to oversee the implementation of the recommendations made in the US government’s Deepwater Horizon Accident Investigation Report.

“We are now systematically implementing the lessons we have learned from the incident,” Dudley told the AGM.

There is a detailed assessment of BP’s 2010 annual report by CBIS here