2 CF Industries social proposals break record for support

Two pension funds separately won record-high support for shareholder social proposals at any company. Both votes were for resolutions at CF Industries, the company disclosed in an SEC filing on the voting results of its Tuesday annual meeting.

The $7.1 billion Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, won 67% of the vote in support for its proposal calling for a sustainability report on the company's environmental, social and governance practices and performance, including a review of opportunities to increase energy efficiency of operations.

And the $160.4 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, Albany, won 65.9% of the vote in support for its proposal, calling for disclosure of the company's political spending and the corporate individuals making such decisions.

The highest previous vote for a shareholder proposal on social or environmental issues was 61.6% in 2011 at KBR Inc. on a resolution calling for the adoption of an anti-bias policy on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to Heidi Welsh, executive director, Sustainable Investments Institute.

“You don't get two-thirds of the vote without major holders” in support, Ms. Welsh said, explaining the large vote in favor of the two CF proposals.

The New York City retirement systems won 50.7% of the vote in favor for its proposal at CF Industries seeking the adoption of a policy on board diversity.

Among shareholders, the $163.7 billion California State Teachers' Retirement System, West Sacramento, the $90 billion State of Wisconsin Investment Board, Madison, and the $1 billion plan of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Washington, voted in support of all three proposals.

The $168.9 billion Florida State Board of Administration, Tallahassee, and the C$129.5 billion (US$126.1 billion) Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, Toronto, both voted against the diversity proposal, while supporting the other two proposals.

Glass Lewis recommended shareholders also vote against the diversity proposal, while supporting the other two proposals. Institutional Shareholder Services recommended shareholders support all three proposals.

CF Industries opposed all the proposals.

Dan Swenson, senior director, investor relations and corporate communications, CF Industries, couldn't be reached for comment.