Steven A. Burd, Safeway Inc. chairman and CEO, was re-elected to the board of the Pleasanton, Calif.-based company today, despite efforts by several large pension funds to withhold shareholder votes. William Atwood, executive director of the $10.5 billion Illinois State Board of Investment, Chicago, said shareholders withheld about 17% of votes to re-elect Mr. Burd and withheld about 15% of votes to re-elect directors Robert I. MacDonnell and William Y. Tauscher. Mr. Atwood attended today's annual meeting.
The Illinois plan - along with the $106 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, Albany; the $78 billion New York City Retirement Systems; and the $19 billion Connecticut Retirement Plans & Trust Funds, Hartford - had pushed for separating the chairman and CEO positions, while Safeway stock tumbled in value. The four plans together own 1.5% of Safeway shares. "The vote doesn't change the need for an independent board," Mr. Atwood said. Both the Illinois and Connecticut funds, as well as others involved in the campaign, will continue to press Safeway for more independent directors, he said.
Safeway officials Julie Hong and Brian Dowley did not return calls seeking comment by press time.