Aetna Inc. shareholders face voting Friday on a New York State Common Retirement Fund proposal calling for the company to disclose spending on political lobbying, and pension funds are lined up on different sides of the issue.
The $181.7 billion Albany-based fund’s proposal requests Aetna disclose annually all payments it made in the previous calendar year to tax-exempt organizations used for political purposes, including the recipient and amount of the payment.
The $191.2 billion California State Teachers’ Retirement System, West Sacramento, and the C$154.4 billion ($127 billion) Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Toronto, plan to vote against the proposal, while the C$239 billion Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Toronto, and the $185.1 billion Florida State Board of Administration, Tallahassee, plan to vote in support of the proposal, according to their proxy-voting disclosures.
Proxy-voting advisory firms also are taking different sides.
Institutional Shareholder Services recommends clients vote in favor of the proposal, while Glass Lewis recommends clients vote against it.
“We need to know whether Aetna is using our investment in ways that benefit long-term value or if it is putting the company’s reputation and its bottom line at risk,” Thomas P. DiNapoli, New York state comptroller and sole trustee of the New York fund, said in a statement.
Aetna recommends shareholders oppose the New York fund proposal, saying in its proxy statement the board believes the information Aetna now discloses “is easily accessible and understandable and, coupled with the oversight of the company’s political activities by the board, is in the best interest of the company. As a result, we do not believe additional disclosure is warranted at this time.”
On another proposal, CalSTRS, CPPIB, FSBA and OTPP all plan to vote to ratify the executive compensation of Mark T. Bertolini, chairman and CEO, and four other top Aetna executives. Both ISS and Glass Lewis also call for ratifying the pay. Mr. Bertolini’s total compensation in 2014 was $15 million, down 50.1% from the previous year, according to its proxy statement.