RI Governance & Engagement, June 2: Proxy Governance chief joins NYSE

RI’s regular review of governance and engagement news

Former Proxy Governance Inc. President and Chief Operating Officer Michael Ryan has joined a NYSE Euronext subsidiary. Ryan will be Senior Vice President & Managing Director of Board Services at NYSE’s Corporate Board Member publication, where he will be head up the new NYSE Board Education Program and other offerings. Proxy Governance ceased operations at the end of last year.

A shareholder proposal jointly filed by Trillium Asset Management and the New York State Comptroller on Chevron’s ongoing Ecuador litigation received about 25% of the vote at the oil company’s annual meeting in California last week. The proposal, in its second year, called for the company to appoint an independent director with environmental expertise.

“Serious concerns” about governance have prompted the European Investment Bank (EIB) to announce that it will decline “any further financing request” from newly-listed commodities giant Glencore or its subsidiaries. At issue is Mopani Copper Mines, a Zambian subsidiary of Swiss-based Glencore at the centre of tax evasion and pollution allegations. The EIB loaned Mopani $50m in 2005. Glencore said it welcomed closer scrutiny – and that it was confident it would be “completely exonerated”.

The new China Center for Corporate Governance has opened in Shanghai. The centre will provide customized board advisory services for a wide range of companies in China, including those publicly-listed, state-owned, pre-IPO as well as institutional investment firms. It is a cooperative effort between CIFALShanghai, Intrabond Capital with the support of the Shanghai Credit Services Trade Association. Announcement
Trowel Trades S&P 500 Index Fund’s shareholder proposal calling for an investor vote on future “golden parachute” arrangements gained 57.8% support at the annual meeting of North Carolina-based home improvement retailer Lowe’s Companies on May 27, according to ISS. “Overall, 80 US shareholder proposals have received majority support this proxy season,” the firm says.The World Bank’s IFC and the Global Corporate Governance Forum have announced they are ‘training the trainers’ in corporate governance in the Eurasia region. They have held a “Governing Banks Board Leadership Program” in Baku, Azerbaijan – which attracted participants from Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkey and Ukraine.

Canadian companies’ audit and compensation committees appear to have responded to increased stakeholder and regulatory expectations during the past decade, according to research cited by the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan. Teachers said recent studies by the Clarkson Centre for Board Effectiveness analyzed trends in committee size, composition, member tenure and chair retainer at companies included in the S&P/TSX Composite Index.

Proxy firm Glass Lewis is supporting a proposal from shareholder Gerald Armstrong seeking an advisory vote on non-employee director compensation at Chesapeake Energy Corporation. The motion is set to be voted on at the company’s annual meeting in Oklahoma City on June 10. Glass Lewis says the company’s director compensation is “inappropriately structured, including such perks as the payment of certain tax gross-ups and personal use of corporate aircraft”.

Knights of Columbus, the $17bn (€11.8bn) US Catholic charitable organisation, is suing securities services giant Bank of New York Mellon in the New York Supreme Court. It’s an attempt to obtain further information relating to former lender Countrywide’s mortgage foreclosures, according to reports.

Proxy advisory firm Manifest has reportedly been threatened with legal action by brokerage firm ICAP’s CEO Michael Spencer. The Daily Telegraph reported that ICAP is understood to have written to Manifest over its recent report which listed Spencer as the highest-paid executive in the FTSE 100 index. The report was put together by Manifest and pay consultants MM&K.