Norwegian investor KLP votes against BP chairman

Environment committee chief and remuneration also rejected

KLP Kapitalforvaltning, the Norwegian asset manager with NOK180bn (€22.3bn) of assets under management, says it has voted against BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg and ethics and environmental committee chairman Sir William Castell.
It has also voted against the oil major’s remuneration report ahead of the company’s annual general meeting in London this week which could see investors vent their frustration over the company’s response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill last year.
Castell, the Senior Independent Director of BP, is also Chairman of the Wellcome Trust charitable foundation and sits on the board at US industrial giant GE.
KLP, which has a stake of around NOK142m (€18m), formally put BP on watch over Deepwater in December 2010. KLP said at the time that it principally blames BP for what it considers to be serious failures over the incident.
The Norwegian firm joins major US pension funds CalPERS and the Florida State Board of Administration and a coalition of investors led by the Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS) in voting against BP over various matters.
Meanwhile, campaign group FairPensions said UK institutional investors have been “conspicuous onlyby their silence” ahead of the “the most anticipated AGM of 2011”.
This reflects a view of investor passivity that was expressed by government minister Lord Freud last month. He told the House of Lords that “greater concern, and perhaps some pressure on the BP board by its shareholders in relation to environmental issues, might have been especially valuable to the company”.
Julie Tanner, Assistant Director of Socially Responsible Investing at CBIS, has travelled to the UK specifically to attend the AGM. She told Responsible Investor that there had been a lack of engagement with the company pre-dating Deepwater which coincided with the closure of its New York investor relations office.
Her concerns about safety issues at the company stretch back to the Texas City fire in 2005 and the Prudhoe Bay spill a year later. She also pointed to contractor safety as a significant issue, adding that CBIS would be looking at BP’s partners such as Transocean and Halliburton.
Tanner welcomed the meetings with investors planned for next month with BP’s Executive Vice President, Safety & Operational Risk Mark Bly but said they had to include written disclosure.