RI Governance & Engagement, May 26: SocGen CEO opposed by 15% at AGM

RI’s regular review of governance and engagement news

The reappointment of Société Générale Chairman and CEO Frédéric Oudéa was opposed by 15.5% of the votes at the French bank’s annual meeting this week. There was also opposition (8.6%) to a proposal to increase directors’ attendance fees. SocGen release

Ram Trust Services’ call for an independent chairman at Exxon Mobil got 31% of the vote at the oil major’s annual meeting in Dallas yesterday, according to a Reuters report. The motion had been opposed by the company, which also faced resolutions on oil sands (Green Century Capital Management), greenhouse gas emissions (Sisters of St. Dominic) and water management (NorthStar Asset Management).

A new report on executive pay disclosure commissioned by the Australian government has been released by the Corporations and Markets Advisory Committee (CAMAC). The government said it would examine the recommendations and respond in due course. David Bradbury, Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, said the length and complexity of remuneration reports “can make it difficult for shareholders to understand, and onerous on companies to prepare”.

The Investment Management Association, the UK’s fund management trade body, has published a comprehensive survey of institutional investors’ engagement with investee companies. Adherence to the FRC’s Stewardship Code found that more than 90% of major institutional investors now vote all or most of their shares in UK companies and that nearly two thirds now publish voting records.

Hermes, the asset manager owned by the BT Pension Scheme, has criticised Deutsche Bank’s supervisory board for failing to make headway in finding a successor to chief executive Josef Ackermann, according to a report in the Financial Times Deutschland. The intervention comes ahead of the bank’s annual meeting today (May 26).
Meanwhile, proxy firm Glass Lewis advised voting against ratifying Deutsche’s supervisory board and against auditor KPMG over “our persistent concerns” about collusion on setting up illegal tax shelters.Flowserve Corp., the New York Stock Exchange-listed pump manufacturer, is to be deleted from the Calvert Social Index after a review. The Texas-based firm no longer meets the Index’s standards for nuclear power.

A proposal on political contributions tabled by the Domini Social Equity Fund and other investors received 30.3% support from shareholders at JP Morgan’s annual meeting on May 17. A resolution on genocide-free investing from Investors Against Genocide gained 7.7% support while the mortgage loan servicing resolution brought by the Board of Pension of the Presbyterian Church and others won 6.4% backing.

A California court has reinstated a suit brought by the $10.6bn Maine State Retirement System and other pension fund investors against Countrywide Financial, according to reports. The firm – now part of Bank of America – had been accused of misleading investors into buying risky mortgage-backed securities ahead of the financial crisis.

A proposal from the United Association S&P 500 Index Fund calling for an independent chairman at Aetna Inc. was approved by 158.6m votes to 149.9m votes at the US health insurer’s annual meeting in Philadelphia last week. The company said it would consider the implications of the vote. AGM results

Energy industry services company Halliburton said shareholders at its annual meeting voted against proposals on human rights and political contributions tabled by the Sisters of Charity and Trillium Asset Management. The event took place in Houston on May 19.

The World Bank’s IFC has teamed up with news agency Agence France-Presse to launch a Media Practice Group to steer the IFC’s Global Corporate Governance Forum’s media training program. The aim is to raise awareness of corporate governance through the media, improve journalists’ reporting on governance and encourage the promotion of best practices in emerging markets.