New Zealand investors including Super fund set up Corporate Governance Forum

Anne-Maree O’Connor to chair new investor body

The NZ$29.6bn (€17.5bn) New Zealand Superannuation Fund has, together with 15 other institutional investors from the local market, established a forum to promote good corporate governance.

The new Corporate Governance Forum’s Chair is Anne-Maree O’Connor, Head of Responsible Investment at NZ Super.

Other founding members include the Government Superannuation Fund as well as asset managers ANZ Investments, Mint Asset Management, Milford AM and Mint (see full list below). Together the forum’s members own around NZ$10bn worth of stock in New Zealand companies, or 15% of the total equity market.

There’s a five-member steering group comprising Accident Compensation Corporation, Devon Funds Management, the Government Superannuation Fund Authority, the Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation and Mint Asset Management. Membership also includes foreign institutions such as Nikko AM and JBWere, the Australian wealth manager owned by NAB Group and Goldman Sachs.

NZ Super has equity assets placed with both Mint and Devon – though a NZ$281m mandate with Milford was suspended in April amid an investigation by the Financial Markets Authority regulator over alleged market manipulation.

The investors unveiled a set of guidelines on good corporate governance. “The guidelines were developed following a review of national and international principles, including from the International Corporate Governance Network (ICGN), the UK Combined Code and the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors,” the Guardians said in a statement.

Among other things, the guidelines suggest that the majority of board directors be independent and that after nine years, they stand for re-election annually. Companies should also communicate how they are ensuring an “appropriate mix” of skills and diversity among directors.Equally important, the investors say, is communicating issues that are “material to the long-term success of a company.” These include strategy, risks, key performance indicators, remuneration policy as well as environmental and social issues. The forum also criticised the use of “show of hands” during company annual meetings as not consistent with the principle of “one share, one vote.”

Said O’Connor: “Building on the Financial Market Authority’s (FMA’s) guidelines, ours promote best practice in areas particularly pertinent to listed companies and shareholders, such as shareholder relations, director nominations and disclosure.” The forum’s investors also say they will engage with other stakeholders, regulators and policymakers to “promote or improve policy, rules and guidelines on corporate governance.”

The launch of the forum was welcomed by the Financial Markets Authority, the New Zealand stock exchange and the Institute of Directors. Link

Members of New Zealand’s new Corporate Governance Forum:

  • Accident Compensation Corporation
  • AMP Capital
  • ANZ Investments
  • Devon Funds Management
  • Forté Funds Management Limited
  • Government Superannuation Fund Authority
  • Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation
  • Harbour Asset Management
  • JBWere
  • JMIS Limited
  • Milford Asset Management
  • Mint Asset Management
  • National Provident Fund
  • Nikko Asset Management
  • Sovereign
  • Salt Funds Management