The Norges Bank Investment Management (Norges), the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world, will publish its voting intentions prior to annual general stockholder meetings (AGMs) when it believes such action can help illustrate an important principle. (Norwegian oil fund to disclose voting intentions to illustrate ‘principle’)
In contrast, CalPERS has been announcing votes in advance at companies where it has the largest stakes but hopes to announce all by the end of this proxy season. The decisions of most pre-disclosing funds can be found at ProxyDemocracy.org.
Yngve Slyngstad, chief executive at Norways’s Norges Bank, said the decision to publicize voting intentions was reached independently from a move to double the number of firms in which the NOK6trn (€658bn) Government Pension Fund Global holds a stake larger than 5%.
He said publishing intentions would only be done in certain situations and on a limited basis in 2015. Yngve Slyngstad said,
It will not be focused on whether we are small or large investors – it will be focused on whether it is a case that illustrates some important principle. It is not a question of our holdings… We think it is possible we will have more of an impact if we announce our voting in advance, but it is still something we will see how it develops.
James McRitchie, publisher of CorpGov.net a website on corporate governance, applauded the move by Norges. Pensions & Investments, an influential trade publication, ran an editorial in 2014, Winning Over Proxy Voters, which argued that institutional investors have a fiduciary duty to announce their proxy votes in advance of annual meetings, if doing so is likely to influence voters. McRitchie argues,
Votes are assets. Announcing votes in advance of meetings puts the value of those assets to their full use; announcing votes after the meeting does not. Announcing proxy votes in advance of meetings should become industry best practice, if not fiduciary duty.