Institutional investors have targeted seven pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies for shareholder proposals. The $117.45 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, Albany, co-filed a proposal at Eli Lilly &Co., calling for disclosure of political contributions; Mercy Investment Program, an organization run by the Sisters of Mercy, New York, joined in the filing. The $43.5 billion Minnesota State Board of Investment, St. Paul, filed a proposal at Merck & Co., asking for a report on the economic impact and liability risks from the company's policy of limiting the availability of its products to Canadian wholesalers or pharmacies that allow purchase of its products by U.S. residents. The $527 million United Brotherhood of Carpenters Pension Fund, Washington, filed a proposal at Abbott Laboratories, calling for performance-based options, and at Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., calling for a majority vote for the election of directors.
Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility member institutions filed proposals on chairman and CEO separation at Eli Lilly, Merck, Abbott Labs, Pfizer Inc. and Wyeth. ICCR members filed political contribution disclosure proposals at Merck, Abbott and Wyeth, and also filed proposals on reporting on the economic impact of the HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria pandemics on business strategy at Abbott, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck and Gilead Sciences Inc. In addition, Bristol-Myers Squibb faces a chairman-CEO separation proposal filed by an unidentified investor and supported by IRRC members, said Daniel Rosan, an ICCR program director.
ICCR sent letters asking for support for its proposals to 3,000 institutional investors, including the 2,000 largest public and Taft-Hartley pension funds and also the 30 largest mutual fund firms, said Mr. Rosan. Also, the ICCR sent the letter to proxy-voting and corporate governance research firms and met with representatives of Institutional Shareholder Services, PROXY Governance and Investor Responsibility Research Center.
Eli Lilly's annual meeting is April 18; Wyeth's is April 21; Abbott's, April 22; Merck's, April 26; Pfizer's, April 28; Bristol-Myers Squibb's, May 3; and Gilead's, May 10.