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UK shareholders to be forced to reveal votes if Labour wins May 6 UK general election

Main rival UK political parties unveil pre-election manifestos.

Institutional shareholders will be forced to declare how they vote at company annual general meetings (AGMs) if the current governing Labour Party wins the forthcoming general election. In its election manifesto ahead of the forthcoming May 6 UK general election, the party said: “The UK’s Stewardship Code for institutional shareholders should be strengthened and we will require institutional shareholders to declare how they vote and for banks to put their remuneration policies to shareholders for explicit approval.” The government had previously said in budget documents last month that it was considering forcing shareholders to disclose how they vote. The party also wants companies to be more transparent about their long-term plans for businesses they want to acquire. “There needs to be more disclosure of who owns shares, a requirement for bidders to set out how they will finance their bids and greater transparency on advisers’ fees,” the party said. In addition, it wants a higher threshold of investor support for takeovers: two-thirds of shareholders. The measure is being dubbed the “Cadbury Law” in the British media after the hostile reaction to Kraft’s takeover of Cadbury, the chocolate maker.
The opposition Conservative Party’s manifesto made no reference to corporate governance issues.
The party did make a manifesto commitment to creatinggreen Individual Savings Accounts to help provide funds for a low carbon economy. It has followed the governing Labour party in proposing a Green Investment Bank to drawing together money currently divided across existing government initiatives and leverage private sector capital to finance new green technology start-ups. The Conservative Party says it would also reform the Climate Change Levy to provide a floor price for carbon, which they say would deliver “the right climate for investment in low carbon energy production”. Another plan would see the UK’s first free national financial advice service – funded through a new “social responsibility levy” on the financial services sector. The party added it would build an offshore electricity grid to support a new generation of offshore wind power and establish at “least two” Marine Energy Parks. Earlier, Labour confirmed its £1bn Green Investment Bank proposals. In another commitment, it pledged 100,000 electric vehicle charging points. It foresees around 40% of the UK’s electricity coming from low-carbon sources by 2020, with energy efficiency enhanced by a new ‘smart grid’. The party said: “We already have more offshore wind-power than any other country in the world, and our plans could see this increase up to 40 times, alongside other renewable technologies such as tidal and marine, solar and sustainable bio-energy.”