Shareholders and advisory groups back resolution seeking the appointment of an independent chair at News Corporation.
UPDATE: October 5, 2012: ISS, a leading provider of proxy advisory and corporate governance solutions to financial market participant, has also lent its support to the CBIS/LAPFF resolution.
UPDATE: October 4, 2012: The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) has called on their members to support our resolution at the News Corp annual meeting. Read their press release here.
ACSI represents 38 profit-for-members superannuation funds who collectively manage over $350 billion in investments on behalf of Australian superannuation fund members.
New York, N.Y. – October 3, 2012 – Leading shareholders and investor advisory services have backed an initiative seeking the appointment of an independent chair at News Corporation.
The resolution has been co-filed by US-based Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS) and members of the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF). It will be voted on at the company’s AGM in Los Angeles on October 16th.
Investors now supporting the resolution include Hermes Equity Ownership Services (Hermes EOS).
Hans Hirt, Global Head of Corporate Engagement at Hermes Equity Ownership Services, said: “While we acknowledge the recent board changes made by the company, News Corp has still not sufficiently addressed the significant shareholder concerns about its board structure and corporate culture highlighted at last year’s annual meeting. The time is right for the company to appoint an independent chairman in order to rebuild trust, and ensure that the interests of all investors are more properly represented.”
Proxy voting advisory services Glass Lewis has also recommended that shareholders vote in favor of the resolution.
The backing of these groups follows earlier shareholder support for the resolution. In July 18 investors with more than US $1.6 (£1.02) trillion in assets under management and 13.4 million News Corp Class A shares wrote to the News Corporation board expressing their support. These included major US and UK investors such as Legal & General Investment Management, Railpen, The Co-operative Asset Management, AP4 and Mercy Investment Services.
In support of the resolution, CBIS and LAPFF have produced a proxy advisory briefing which has been distributed to News Corp shareholders, and has been used in engagements with major investors.
Ian Greenwood, Chairman of Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, said: “Whilst we recognise the efforts the company has made to clear up the mess left by the hacking scandal, we continue to believe that News Corp and its shareholders would benefit from the appointment of an independent chair. The clear sense we are getting is that major
News Corp shareholders agree with our analysis and share our desire for the company to commit to meaningful reform.”
Julie Tanner, Assistant Director of Socially Responsible Investing at Christian Brothers Investment Services, said: “Although approximately 40 percent of voting shares are tied to the Murdoch family, this resolution allows independent shareholders to voice their dissatisfaction with the lack of responsiveness from the News Corp board. An independent chair is a necessary step toward rebuilding shareholder trust and protecting long-term shareholder value.”
News Corp’s AGM takes place in Los Angeles on Tuesday October 16th at 10.00am. LAPFF, CBIS and Hermes EOS will be attending the meeting to speak in favor of the resolution.
The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF, www.lapfforum.org), which was set up in 1991, is a voluntary association of 55 public sector pension funds based in the UK. It exists ‘to promote the long-term investment interests of local authority pension funds, and to maximise their influence as shareholders to promote corporate responsibility and high standards of corporate governance amongst the companies in which they invest.’ The Forum’s members currently have combined assets of over £115 billion. PIRC is the Research and Engagement partner of the Forum.
About Christian Brothers Investment Services
CBIS is a leader in Catholic socially responsible investing (SRI) with approximately $4.0 billion in AUM for more than 1,000 Catholic institutions worldwide, including dioceses, religious institutes, educational institutions and health care organizations. CBIS’ combination of premier institutional asset managers, diversified product offerings, and careful risk-control strategies constitutes a unique investment approach for Catholic institutions and their fiduciaries. CBIS strives to integrate faith-based values into the investment process through a disciplined approach to socially responsible investing that includes principled purchasing (stock screens), active ownership strategies (proxy voting, dialogues, and shareholder resolutions) and community investment. Visit CBIS at www.cbisonline.com.
- Hermes EOS represents the interest of its clients in voting, engagement and public policy in relation to listed equities, corporate bonds and alternative investments.
- At Hermes EOS we have individuals that understand Islam & Responsible Ownership.
- Hermes EOS does not seek board seats or micro-manage on issues which are the rightful domain of board of directors. Instead engagement is undertaken in private with a pragmatic approach to take into account the unique and individual circumstances of the companies resulting in measurable outcomes on Environmental, Social, and Governance.
About Hermes Fund Managers
Hermes is a unique fund manager – we have been an industry leader in Responsible Investing for over thirty years and offer clients the unparalleled combination of:
- Our Multi-Boutique Structure gives institutional and pension fund clients globally the benefit of access to a broad range of specialist, high conviction investment teams operating within an established and robust operating platform.
- Our Investment Office is a crucial function, acting as a performance risk ‘radar’ for all boutiques’ investment activity and is central to our mission to deliver Sustainable Risk-Adjusted Alpha to all our clients.
- Our commitment to behaving as a Responsible Asset Manager, not merely by being a ‘Responsible Investor’ in quoted companies but also by applying these principles across all asset classes and by behaving as a ‘good fiduciary’ on behalf of our clients.
Hermes’ investment solutions include:
- Alternatives: Commodities, Fund of Hedge Funds, Real Estate, Private Equity, Infrastructure
- Bonds: Inflation-Linked, Government Bonds, Investment Grade, High Yield
- Equities: Global, Emerging Markets, Small Cap, Europe, Japan
Hermes manages assets on behalf of more than 170 clients* across these investment areas with £24.8 billion* assets under management. Additionally, we support pension funds and other global institutional investors worldwide in meeting their ESG responsibilities through our market leading Hermes Equity Ownership Services, which takes on a stewardship role engaging globally on more than £89 billion* of assets.
* As at 30th June 2012
Please note the total AUM figure for Hermes Fund Managers Limited (“HFM”) includes £3.8 billion* of assets that are managed by Hermes GPE LLP (“HGPE”), which is a joint venture between HFM and GPE Partner Limited. HGPE is an independent entity and not part of the Hermes group.”