RI Governance & Engagement, April 15: Shell holds briefing for SRI investors

RI’s regular review of governance and engagement news

Oil giant Shell held a briefing for socially responsible investors yesterday – on the same day as the BP AGM. CEO Peter Voser and Wim Kok, Chairman of its Corporate and Social Responsibility Committee, made presentations at Goldman Sachs in London. The company also published its 2010 Sustainability Report. Transcript

The Global Challenges Index has excluded US information technology company EMC for infringing its sustainability criteria. EMC, which has been fined $87.5m by the US Justice Department over kickback allegations, will be replaced in the index by gas producer Linde. The 50-constituent index is compiled by oekom research for the Hanover stock exchange. Website

Switzerland’s Ethos Foundation, which looks after more than CHF2.3bn (€1.4bn) in assets for more than 100 pension funds and foundations, has come out in opposition to the remuneration reports of banking giants UBS and Credit Suisse. It is also against an increase in capital to back the latter’s trading, saying: “These activities are very capital intensive and carry risks that are not in line with the long term interests of Credit Suisse’s shareholders.” The UBS AGM is on April 28 with Credit Suisse following the next day.
France: shareholder consultancy Deminor is opposing an asset sale plan by retail giant Carrefour, according to a Reuters report. Carrefour shareholders are set to vote on June 21 on a proposal to list some of its property arm and its discount chain Dia. All this comes amid attention from activist investor Knight Vinke

Helsinki: A proposal by the Finnish Shareholders’ Association and the State of Finland calling for the abolition of the Supervisory Board at Neste Oil’s company’s annual general meeting this week was passed. The meeting also decided to establish an AGM Nomination Board, Neste said.Shareholders have been advised by corporate governance firm PIRC to oppose the remuneration report at Barclays’ annual general meeting on April 27. PIRC said the bank’s pay structure is so complex that it “prevents analysis of the design and quantum of executive pay”, according to reports.

The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners is to call on the Securities and Exchange Commission to eliminate withhold votes as part of a bid to get US firms to adopt majority voting for uncontested board elections, according to a blog post from ISS/RiskMetrics.

PhiTrust, the activist investor, says it has not obtained the capital needed get its proposal for separating the Chairman and CEO roles at Société Générale onto the agenda for the French bank’s annual general meeting next month. “This would have allowed a debate among shareholders and corporate officers on the subject, even if not put to the vote of the meeting,” PhiTrust said.

US sustainable investment specialist Pax World Management has launched a campaign to promote gender diversity on corporate boards. It is urging investors to withhold support from corporate proxies that do not include women directors. It has written to 165 mutual fund CEOs, pension fund fiduciaries and women’s colleges and universities

UK finance giant Aviva has an advisory vote on its corporate responsibility report at its annual general meeting in London on May 4. Link

France’s largest companies should include sustainable development criteria as part of their bonus criteria, according to the French SIF, the Forum pour l’Investissement Responsable (FIR). The recommendation was made by its corporate dialogue programme titled CorDial, which examines company/investor dialogues. Its latest survey looks at a number of ESG issues between French corporates and investors.Link to FIR