RI Governance, March 1: Danish pension fund divests mining firm over pollution

RI’s regular review of governance news

Danish pension fund SamPension, which manages the Pension Fund for Danish Municipalities, the Government Employee’s Pension Fund and the Graphical Industry Pension Fund, has confirmed to RI that it has divested its DKK1.8m (€242,134) stake in Canada-based mining firm Goldcorp over pollution at the company’s Marlin mine in Guatemala. It follows engagement from campaigners at DanWatch, who say other major Danish funds retain their stakes to continue dialogue. Link (Danish)

The Australian Securities & Investments Commission, the regulator, has called on companies to improve the disclosure of remuneration for directors and executives. It follows a review of 50 remuneration reports – drawn from 300 of Australia’s biggest companies. “It is important for the integrity of the market and investor confidence that there is a high level of compliance with the executive remuneration laws,” ASIC Deputy Chairman Belinda Gibson said.

The OECD has notified Royal Dutch Shell that a complaint has been lodged with it under its Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The complaint made by Friends of the Earth International and Amnesty International says they are concerned by the practices and communications of Shell over its operations in Ogoniland, Nigeria. The NGOs allege that Shell has provided incorrect, misleading or unsubstantiated information and failed to address adverse human rights, environmental and health impacts. Shell has said it will study the complaint and liaise with the OECD on the way forward. Link

Matt Patsky, chief executive of Boston-based Trillium Asset Management, the socially responsible funds firm with more than $970m under management, has testified before the Massachusetts Joint Committee on the Judiciary. He was speaking in support of a bill which calls on the US Congress to propose an amendment to the Constitution reversing the Supreme Court’s controversial Citizens United decision.Canadian shareholder group the Mouvement d’éducation et de défense des actionnaires (MÉDAC) has submitted three proposals to the Scotia Bank annual general meeting scheduled for April 3. They refer to stock options, performance based pay and the independence of the board’s Compensation Committee. The bank is advising shareholders to vote against all three motions.
Shareholders in media giant News Corp. are currently drafting resolutions for its annual meeting calling for James Murdoch to quit the company’s board after his decision to leave his role at its UK newspaper subsidiary News International, according to the Guardian. “This is a very minor step in the right direction,” the paper quoted Julie Tanner, assistant director of socially responsible investing at Christian Brothers Investment Services as saying.

Investors will probably get an advisory say-on-pay vote at Belgian companies in the forthcoming annual meeting season, according to Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS). The Law on Corporate Governance and Executive Remuneration was passed in April 2010, ISS added.

Law firm Milberg and human rights activist Morton Sklar, Executive Director of the World Organization for Human Rights USA, have filed a lawsuit calling on Internet giant Yahoo! to provide records about its Yahoo! Human Rights Fund. The move is on behalf of shareholder and Chinese activist Jing Zhao.

Equity asset managers appointed recently by the £3.5bn (€4.2bn) Lothian Pension Fund will be expected to provide advice on voting rights and engage with investee companies, according to the contract award notice. Appointed firms include Baillie Gifford, Cantillon Capital Management, Nordea Investment Management, Lazard, Natixis Global Associates and BNY Mellon Asset Management International.