RI Governance round-up, Mar 8: UK names Edinburgh as Green Investment Bank HQ

RI’s round up of corporate governance news.

The UK government has announced that headquarters of its Green Investment Bank (GIB) will be in Edinburgh with the main transaction team based in London. The next step for the GIB is the recruitment of the Chair and Senior Independent Director so that it will be in a position to be fully operational this Autumn, subject to state aid approval. The GIB is expected to employ 50-70 full time equivalent staff across the two sites.

US proxy voting firm ISS (Institutional Shareholder Services) has released its 2012 look at US corporate boards. “Board Practices: The Structure of Boards at S&P 1500 Companies” looks at director elections, board and director independence, and board diversity, among other factors, at S&P 1500 firms. This year’s report, which analyzes board practices and characteristics based on index, includes data as of June 30, 2011, from 1,461 companies and 13,760 individual board seats in the S&P 500, the MidCap S&P 400, and the SmallCap S&P 600. Link

US fund management giant Janus Capital Group has cut the pay of CEO Richard Weil to $6.1m in 2011 from $20.3m in 2010 – and added new compensation guidelines – following a shareholder say on pay vote at its annual meeting last year, according to its new proxy filing. It states the Denver-based firm’s compensation committee took into account the shareholder vote at its annual meeting held in April.
The proxy also includes a proposal from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), calling for an independent chairman. Link

Clearstream, the Luxembourg-based central securities depositary with E11bn of assets under custody, has launched an enhanced proxy voting services with ISS – ahead of the 2012 proxy voting season. They said the enhancement would help to facilitate “active ownership to meet corporate governance guidelines’. Coverage will include all Clearstream eligible assets including international securities and investment funds. Announcement*James Copland, Director of the Center for Legal Policy at the Manhattan Institute* has published a list of the issues corporate directors should expect to face in the 2012 proxy season. They include shareholder advisory votes on executive compensation, corporate political spending, independent board chairmen, and proxy ballot access for director nominees.

The US Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, the country’s audit watchdog, has proposed that auditors should consider how managers incentives might influence accounting decisions and presentations. It said auditors should review the compensation contracts of corporate executives in an effort to prevent the next Enron.

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has launched a new XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) taxonomy for tagging sustainability data in reports, making it easier for users to find and analyze data.

NEI Investments in Canada has refilled a resolution for the March 20 AGM of Laurentian Bank calling on its to consider multiple metrics including non-financial factors for executive bonuses. The same proposal received 27.69% support from shareholders in 2011.
NEI’s 2012 resolutions can been seen here Link

PGGM and PKA, the Dutch and Danish pension fund service providers, have signed an agreement to exchange knowledge and develop cooperation on a number of areas, including investments. Both organisations serve pension funds with participants within the health- and social sector operating in a global investment environment. They said the aim of the cooperation was to find added value in areas such as membership involvement, risk management, benchmarking of costs (and cost transparency) and joint investment opportunities.