CalPERS and CalSTRS today asked Hewlett-Packard shareholders to support a bylaws amendment that would permit large shareholders to nominate directors to the company board. Officials of the $231.5 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System and the $158 billion California State Teachers' Retirement System, both in Sacramento, cited spying and stock option scandals at H-P as reasons to give shareholders a greater say. The funds will send a letter to up to 7,500 HP shareholders today, urging them to support the measure.
"Sadly, today share owners have no way to hold dysfunctional companies with entrenched boards that harm a company's ability to grow, create jobs and generate share owner value accountable," said Rob Feckner, CalPERS board president. The proposal, which will be considered at H-P's March 14 annual meeting, would allow shareholders that have beneficially owned at least 3% of HP common stock for a minimum of two years to nominate up to two board candidates.
The proposal was submitted by the $850 million American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees staff pension plan, Washington; the $144.3 billion New York Common Retirement Fund, Albany; the $22.9 billion State of Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds, New Haven; and the $70 billion North Carolina Retirement Systems, Raleigh.
CalPERS owns 16.5 million HP shares, and CalSTRS, 12.6 million.
Separately, Charles Valdes, chairman of the CalPERS investment committee, today said the board will review its permissible emerging markets strategy. Mr. Valdes said he would prefer to have a program that engages countries and companies on their corporate governance practices instead of simply not investing in countries that don't meet standards.
The comment came up during approval of a new emerging markets corporate governance program, in which CalPERS will invest up to $500 million. That program will not be tied to CalPERS' permissible emerging markets standards. Also, under the standards this year, CalPERS will add Morocco and drop Sri Lanka from the permissible emerging markets list.
In addition, CalPERS approved a new fund-of-funds program for emerging managers that will initially invest $1 billion with one to three funds of funds. Staff plans to issue an RFP within the next eight weeks, said Christianna Wood, senior investment officer.
(updated with correction)