RI Briefing, July 26: ECGS, South Africa, Bursa Malaysia, OTPP, BP

RI’s regular round-up of responsible investment stories.

Proxinvest is taking over from the UK’s PIRC as managing partner of the European Corporate Governance Service (ECGS), the European proxy voting joint venture, from October 1. Dutch consultancy Shareholder Support is to join as a partner. Link

A group of South African investors have set up a committee with the aid of the Institute of Directors in Southern Africa to draft a code for responsible shareholder investing, according to local media. The new code would complement the King Report on Corporate Governance, the Times reported. The Committee hopes to be able to issue a draft of the code for public comment later this year.

The Bursa Malaysia has launched two consultation papers on corporate governance. The first seeks feedback on proposed amendments to its Listing Requirements while the second paper is on the proposed Corporate Disclosure Guide. The deadline for replies to the consultation papers is August 19. Website

The C$96.4bn (€71.6bn) Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is to vote against the re-election of Sir John Bond, non-executive chairman at telecoms firm Vodafone, at the firm’s AGM on July 27. OTPP cited Vodafone’s “significant structural and strategic weaknesses”. The fund says it has engaged with management and board members and believes board rejuvenation is “critical”. Link*The public pension funds* of New York and Ohio, worth a combined $275bn, have announced that they will seek lead plaintiff status on behalf of investors in a securities class action against oil major BP deriving from the Gulf oil spill disaster. “BP misled investors with false and misleading statements about the safety of its drilling operations and its ability to fix events like the oil spill,” said New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

CalPERS, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, has met with BP to express its concerns about the quality and competence of the oil giant’s board in the wake of the Gulf oil spill, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, CalPERS has written to fellow shareholders of La-Z-Boy asking them to support for a shareholder resolution at the US home furnishing company’s annual meeting on August 18. CalPERS wants the firm to declassify the board and provide for the annual election of all directors. A similar proposal in 2008 received 57% support.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, the US regulator, has released its” 151-page consultation on proxy voting. It acknowledged that the system has become complex and “less transparent to shareholders and to issuers”. The deadline for submission is October 20.