CalPERS' proposal at Nabors Industries calling for the company to change its proxy-voting counting to treat broker non-votes as having no impact won majority support from shareholders, according to a statement from the $293 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento.
Aside from CalPERS' own votes in support, the proposal received unanimous backing in voting from the C$219.1 billion ($200.3 billion) Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Toronto; $183.8 billion California State Teachers' Retirement System, West Sacramento; $180.3 billion Florida State Board of Administration, Tallahassee; C$140.8 billion Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, Toronto; $124 billon Texas Teacher Retirement System, Austin; $104.1 billion State of Wisconsin Investment Board, Madison; and $14.5 billion Illinois State Board of Investment, Chicago, according to their proxy-voting disclosures.
The company counted the uninstructed votes of clients of brokerage firms holding shares as “against” votes. As a result, some proposals at Nabors last year were defeated.
“This is a tremendous win for CalPERS and all shareowners,” Anne Simpson, CalPERS senior portfolio manager and director of global governance, said in the statement. “This sends a clear signal to Nabors, and other companies with similar provisions, that it's time to end what some view as vote rigging.”
Nabors opposed the proposal, which is non-binding on the company.
“CalPERS will still seek to amend the bylaws to prohibit the practice,” the statement said.
CalPERS holds 1.1 million Nabors shares, valued at $29.4 million. The company has 325.8 million shares outstanding.
Mark Andrews, Nabors corporate secretary, and Dennis A. Smith, Nabors spokesman, couldn't be reached for comment.