Dutch pension giants voted against BP safety chief

Influential asset owners refused to back Sir William Castell

It’s emerged that Dutch pension fund giants APG and PGGM voted against BP’s safety committee chairman Sir William Castell at oil major BP’s turbulent annual general meeting earlier this month.
Castell became a lightning rod for investor frustration at BP’s response to the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster last year.
Some 43% of shareholder votes at the AGM abstained or voted against Castell – the chair of the company’s Safety, Ethics and Environmental Assurance Committee, amid an investor campaign coordinated by the Christian Brothers Investment Services.
Proxy firm Glass Lewis had 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.
PGGM also voted against a further nine board members, including chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg. APG, the €277bn asset manager, also abstained on the directors’ remuneration report.
Both funds voted to accept the company’s annual report and accounts, according to the voting disclosure sections of their websites.But PGGM, with €99bn under management, noted that it would “welcome a significantly higher level of disclosure” on the spill’s aftermath.
Elsewhere, demonstrating that the two influential Dutch funds don’t always share the same view on issues, are the results of their voting at Woodside Petroleum on April 20. At issue was the first ever climate change proposal at an Australian firm.
Although “supportive” of the proposal, PGGM voted against it, saying Woodside is showing a positive attitude towards the subject of climate change. It said: “PGGM therefore strongly feels that forcing the company to disclose its assumptions annually at the AGM is not necessary at this stage.” It was confident that better disclosure could be achieved with dialogue. APG, for its part, voted for the proposal.
Elsewhere, the two Dutch funds supported the proposal by the City of New York Comptroller calling for a review of foreclosure behaviour at Citigroup, which had its annual meeting last week. They argue that shareholders might benefit from more information about Citi’s internal controls. The proposal was also supported by CalPERS and the Florida State Board of Administration.