UK Pension Protection Fund advisor opposed Judge at Massey

F&C voted against incoming PPF chair’s role at US mine firm

The UK Pension Protection Fund’s own voting and engagement provider F&C Investments opposed new PPF chairman Barbara Judge’s appointment as a director at controversial US mining company Massey Energy Co. Massey is in the spotlight over an explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia which claimed 29 lives earlier this month. It’s facing calls from shareholders such as the New York Common Fund and CtW Investments for its chairman and chief executive Don Blankenship to resign. F&C’s voting records show it withheld its vote for Judge at Massey’s annual meeting on May 19, 2009 as she served on the boards of five or more large companies. F&C says directors “must have sufficient time and energy to discharge their role properly”. F&C also voted for shareholder resolutions for Massey to produce environmental and carbon dioxide emissions reports, against the board’s recommendations. The PPF, the lifeboat for failed defined benefit pension funds, has itself voted against companies in the UK over multiple directorships, notably at AstraZeneca, Aviva and Sainsbury last year. F&C told Responsible Investor that itwill undertake “appropriate follow-up engagement” with Massey in light of the Upper Big Branch incident. F&C was appointed by the PPF in 2008 and also provides advice on the PPF’s responsible investment strategy. The asset manager has 21 clients for its Responsible Engagement Overlay (reo) approach, including names such as PGGM, PensionDanmark and Achmea, representing assets of €90bn. Spokesperson Paula Garrido said: “F&C’s voting decisions and follow-up engagement are conducted in full conformity with its independent Corporate Governance Guidelines and engagement policy, and are applied consistently for all clients unless an individual client instructs otherwise.” The PPF, a signatory to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, has incorporated environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into its investment activities to “protect and enhance the long-term value of our assets, benefiting our stakeholders long into the future”. Neither the PPF or the UK Department for Work and Pensions, which appointed Judge, would comment.
Link to F&C voting record