New York State Common Retirement Fund filed a shareholder proposal with Monster Beverage Corp., calling on the company to report any plans to increase gender and racial diversity on its board, said a statement Thursday from the pension fund.
The $29.4 billion Connecticut Retirement Plans & Trust Funds, Hartford, $4.3 billion Philadelphia Public Employees Retirement System and Calvert Investments joined the $173.8 billion Albany-based pension fund as co-filers of the proposal.
“It's unsettling that Monster Beverage has ignored repeated, widespread investor support for increased board diversity,” Thomas P. DiNapoli, New York state comptroller and sole trustee of the New York pension fund, said in the statement. “Company value and board diversity are linked. Businesses that rely on consumers should be particularly mindful that their boards should reflect the men and women who purchase their products. When a board fails to be responsive to its shareholders, it is often symptomatic of larger, systemic problems in the company's governance.”
Monster directors and executives have been unresponsive to the New York pension fund's efforts to discuss the issue, said Matt Sweeney, New York State Common spokesman, in an interview.
The filers hold Monster Beverage shares valued at a combined $57 million, including the New York State Common Fund's 458,706 shares, valued at $51.2 million as of Dec. 19, Mr. Sweeney said.
In response to the proposal, Monster issued a statement that said, “Diversity is a part of the mix that Monster Beverage Corp.’s board and nominating committee consider when identifying and evaluating candidates for director. In fact, as stated in the company’s public filings, the nominating committee charter specifically includes diversity among the factors to be considered, along with experience, skills, and knowledge of business and management practices.”
Monster hasn’t set a date for its annual shareholder meeting, which generally is late May or early June, said Roger S. Pondel, CEO of PondelWilkinson, Monster’s external public relations firm.