Leaders of CalPERS, APG Group, Norges Bank Investment Management and 11 other major pension funds and investment firms worldwide called on the SEC to issue new rules to allow proxy access, enabling shareholders to use corporate proxy materials to nominate company directors, according to a joint statement.
The “2008 financial crisis exposed how complacent many company boards of directors had become, and investors paid a heavy price,” the statement said. “We have accumulated far too many examples of unaccountable directors on boards which have ignored shareowner proposals, fallen short of their duty to oversee management and, too often, overcompensated CEOs and senior executives relative to performance results when they failed to deliver shareowner value.
“Giving long-term shareowners with substantial stakes in the company the right to nominate directors would add a powerful tool to keeping boards accountable and companies financially healthy.”
The group called the July 22 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington to invalidate the SEC’s proxy access rule “disappointing,” according to the statement. “But now is not the time to give up. We strongly urge the SEC to issue new rules on full proxy access and continue its commitment to providing long-term shareowners with the right to have a say in who runs the companies they own.”
Aside from leaders of the $227 billion California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the $375 billionAPG and Norges Bank Investment Management, the other endorsers of the request were leaders from the New York State Common Retirement Fund, California State Teachers’ Retirement System, Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association, Connecticut Retirement Plans & Trust Funds, New York City Retirement Systems, North Carolina Retirement Systems, Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, Washington State Investment Board, AustralianSuper, PGGM Investments, and Universities Superannuation Scheme.
Florence Harmon, SEC spokeswoman, said SEC officials declined to comment about the joint request.