Tag Archives | CalPERS

Savings Plus: Transparent Proxy Voting Needed

I’ve previously written two posts on California’s Savings Plus program and how one major contractor, Northern Trust has voted. (Part I & Part II) Below, I compare the votes of Northern Trust on proxy proposals with those recommended by the AFL-CIO. A similar exercise could be performed at any deferred compensation plan. 

Shareholders have voting rights, usually one vote per share, to decide who will serve on the board and to advise on pay and other issues. Funds, such as CalPERS and the CalHR Savings Plus program, have a legal duty to ensure shares are voted in the best interest of program participants. Continue Reading →

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CalPERS Candidate Forum: September 16, 2014

CalPERS Candidate Forum to be held in the auditorium

CalPERS Auditorium Looking Toward Board Seats

Please attend the upcoming CalPERS Candidate Forum. Sorry, I haven’t been keeping this site up but have concentrated on Corporate Governance. However, another election cycle is coming up at CalPERS. State and local government employees will each elect a candidate. Retirees can’t vote for any of the candidates running in the current election cycle. However, once elected, they will make decisions that impact all of us.

Everyone attending will  have an opportunity to ask candidates tough questions, which they will answer to a live audience and a much larger audience expected to view videos once posted on the Internet. Continue Reading →

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California’s Savings Plus: Better Proxy Voting Disclosure Needed Part II

CalHR Savings Plus

This is the second of a two part series. Part I discussed proxy voting at Savings Plus, as compared with at CalPERS. 

CalHR’s Current RFP for Savings Plus

CalHR recently released a Request for Proposal (RFP 700-14-01) seeking bids for investment management services for Savings Plus. Unfortunately, the RFP fails to require Savings Plus participants be informed of proxy voting policies or decisions.   Continue Reading →

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California’s Savings Plus: Better Proxy Voting Disclosure Needed, Part I

CalHR

Most California State employees and retirees have their retirement funds invested largely through two vehicles. CalPERS is the nation’s largest public pension, with almost $300B in assets. Many employees also have smaller amounts invested in CalHR‘s Savings Plus program, with assets of $10B. Both vehicles invest a large proportion of their funds in corporate stock, which carries voting power that can not only impact the value of the companies and potentially our retirement income but also the quality of our environment and our political framework.

Over the course of several decades the Department Labor and the SEC have ruled that proxy voting rights are assets. Fiduciaries of funds, such as CalPERS and Savings Plus, must ensure the underlying shares are voted for the benefit of the employees and retires whose funds they hold in trust. Continue Reading →

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Federico Buenrostro Pleads Guilty

Federico Buenrostro

Federico Buenrostro

It is good to see former CalPERS CEO Federico R. Buenrostro finally pleading guilty, with “sources” telling Pensions & Investments that “his admissions could result in expanded criminal charges for his codefendant… Alfred Villalobos,” as well as possible “indictments against two former CalPERS board members, Kurato Shimada and Charles Valdes.” (Guilty plea opens new chapter in CalPERS story and Former CEO of CalPERS pleads guilty to fraud, corruption charge, LATimes). Continue Reading →

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July 2014: 5, 10 & 15 Years Ago in Corporate Governance

Mr. Peabodys WayBackMachineCorporate Governance Publisher’s Note: Yes, you’ll find many broken links in the material referenced below. After 5, 10 and 15 years, the internet moves on. Many of the organization’s linked have since gone under. We’re just glad to still be here, offering our readers a sense of the history we have shared. More about the WABAC machine

Five Years Ago in Corporate Governance

This morning, the SEC held a hearing on proxy access. By a three to two vote, Commissioners voted for proxy access. Democracy in corporate governance will dramatically improve with our right to nominate and elect directors, even if limited to 25% of the board. Directors may actually begin to feel dependent on the will of shareowners. Continue Reading →

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Corporate Governance WABAC Machine

MrPeabodysWayBackMachineCorporate Governance Publisher’s Note: Yes, you’ll find many broken links in the material referenced below. After 5, 10 and 15 years, the internet moves on. Many of the organization’s linked have since gone under. We’re just glad to still be here, offering our readers a sense of the history we have shared. More about the WABAC machine

Five Years Ago in Corporate Governance

Shareowners.org Launched. Finally a social networking site that will actually accomplish something. Yes, you can “friend” people and post to their “wall.” However, right now, ShareOwners.org will help engage typical investors by sending their comments in support of the group’s agenda directly to their members of Congress. Over the long run, ShareOwners.org’s broad four-part agenda focuses on the need for stronger regulation (including a beefed-up SEC), increased accountability of boards/CEOs, improved financial transparency and protection of the legal rights of investors. At some point, shareowners will also be able to vote their shares directly through ShareOwners.org. Unfortunately, the site went dark a few years later and nothing has arisen to take its place.  Continue Reading →

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Announcing Proxy Votes Improves Corporate Governance

democracy

Shareowners Upholding Industry

Yesterday, I posted a recent letter to the editor of Pensions & Investments praising their editorial, Winning Over Proxy Voters, which argues 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. If institutional investors heed their call, it will speed the development of open client director voting (CDV) and more intelligent proxy votes.

As corporate power grows and the power of government falls, mechanisms to govern corporations become more important. As government power falls, their power to regulate corporations falls as well. Further, as the influence of corporations over governments increases (e.g. lobbying) the will of governments to regulate corporations also falls.  – CHR for Social Responsibility

Historically, most retail shareowners toss their proxies. During the first year under the “notice and access” method for Internet delivery of proxy materials, less than 6% made use of their proxy votes. Those that do vote own disproportionately more shares (about 25-30% of total retail shares). The voting rate hasn’t improved much, if at all. This contrasts with almost all institutional investors voting, since they have a fiduciary duty to do so. Unfortunately, it isn’t time/cost efficient to read through the entire proxy to vote a few retail shares intelligently. Continue Reading →

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CalPERS Makes History @ Nabors

CalPERS-logoCalPERS today announced that the System’s shareowner proposal at Nabors Industries $NBR recommending that the company change its proxy voting methodologies passed with the support of a majority of shares voted. CalPERS sought the changes to ensure equality and fairness in the manner in which Nabors counts votes cast on proxy proposals at its annual shareowner meeting.

Said Anne Simpson, CalPERS Senior Portfolio Manager and Director of Global Governance: Continue Reading →

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CalPERS Announces Board Candidates

CalPERSbldgThe California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) is conducting two elections this fall for the State and public agency representative seats on the CalPERS Board of Administration. Current terms for both positions end in January 2015. The election for the school board member representative seat will not be conducted because the incumbent, Rob Feckner, was unopposed. George Diehr, Ph.D., the incumbent in the State member position announced he would not seek reelection.

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CalPERS Urges Nabors to Exclude Broker Non-Votes

NBRCalPERS-logoCalPERS filed a notice of exempt solicitation (PX14A6G) and urged shareholders to vote for a proposal asking the company to amend their bylaws to exclude broker non-votes when tabulating proxy votes at the 2014 AGM of Nabors Industries (NBR). I don’t personally own stock in NBR but the issue is an important one, so it is good to see CalPERS raising it at this high visibility company. Continue Reading →

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CalPERS Launches Search for Chief Investment Officer

CalPERS-logoAfter the death of straight shooter Joe Dear (Joseph A. Dear: June 7, 1951 to February 26, 2014), the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) has launched a search. Big shoes to fill. They seek an experienced investment professional for the role of Chief Investment Officer (CIO) to lead and manage its 400-plus person Investment Office, which invests CalPERS $285 billion in assets across a diversified global portfolio in public and private equity, fixed income, real estate and inflation-linked assets. Continue Reading →

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Take Action: Quick Bites on Corporate Governance – Tell Me More

RalphNaderThe BBC reports Activist Ralph Nader wants you to get paid. Apparently, our Take Action: Join Nader’s Penny Brigade didn’t take hold.

BBC CAPITAL: This year, you’ve taken steps to get the Penny Brigade idea off the ground. You want 15 to 20 advocates for good company behaviour to provide setting-up costs for a watchdog foundation, right? You have personally pledged 1% of your net worth, or roughly $50,000, in each of the next three years. What are your next steps? Continue Reading →

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Apple Inc. (AAPL): How I Voted – Proxy Score 89

silver-apple-logo-apple-pictureStockUnderValueExtraxtionApple Inc. (NASD:AAPL) is one of the stocks in my portfolio. Their annual meeting is coming up on 2/28/2014. ProxyDemocracy.org was down for maintenance when I checked and voted on 2/19/2014, so no voting advice there. I checked a few other sources such as CalPERS, Florida SBA and OTPP but none had disclosed their votes on their sites as of yesterday. I voted with 89% of the Board’s recommendations. View Apple’s Proxy Statement. Continue Reading →

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Take Action: Join Nader's Penny Brigade

RalphNaderSome have argued that Ralph Nader started socially responsible shareholder activism with Campaign GM, when the group filed shareholder proposals to expand GM’s board to include consumer advocates and empower shareholders to place their board nominees on GM’s proxy ballot (proxy access).  According to a recent article in the WSJ, the longtime consumer advocate is now putting together a shareholder-activism group. (Ralph Nader Adds Shareholder Activist to His Portfolio, 1/15/2014) Continue Reading →

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Job: General Counsel at CalPERS

CalPERS-logoCalPERS is still recruiting to fill its vacant General Counsel position.  This is an exciting opportunity for a visionary in the legal profession to play a key role in a preeminent public pension fund.  Under the direction of the Chief Executive Officer, the General Counsel supports CalPERS in the management of a global portfolio of more than $270 billion, as well as complex financial and actuarial functions. The position is based in Sacramento, California. Continue Reading →

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CalPERS Launches Search for General Counsel

CalPERS-logoThe California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) is seeking a visionary in the legal profession for the role of General Counsel to serve as a critical member of the organization’s Executive Team in support of CalPERS pension and health care programs.

The General Counsel advises the Board of Administration, Chief Executive Officer and the organization on a broad array of matters, including fiduciary duty and responsibility, investment transactions, securities litigation, corporate governance, public pension law, health care law and government law. The General Counsel reports directly to the Chief Executive Officer. Said Anne Stausboll, CalPERS Chief Executive Officer: Continue Reading →

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Corporate Governance: the Focus for a New Type of Activist Investor

Guest post from Josh Black, Financial Journalist for Activist Insight Ltd., which “aims to provide the most comprehensive global information source on activist investment.”

ActivistInsightTraditional activists were essentially value investors, but that profile might be changing.

Carl Icahn has long championed the interests of shareholders. Yet even many who had watched him for years were surprised by the vehemence of his Wall Street Journal Op-ed after withdrawing from the shareholder vote on Dell’s leveraged buyout. Continue Reading →

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Corporate Governance: Stepping Back in Time From October 2013

MrPeabodysWayBackMachinePublisher’s Note: Yes, you’ll find many broken links in the material referenced below. After 5, 10 and 15 years, the internet moves on. Many of the organization’s linked have since gone under. We’re just glad to still be here, offering our readers a sense of the history we have shared. More about the WABAC machine.

Five Years Ago in Corporate Governance

  • The Treasury is injecting $125 billion into nine big banks and making a like amount available for other banks that apply. Those financial giants owed their executives more than $40 billion for past years’ pay and pensions as of the end of 2007, a Wall Street Journal analysis shows. (Banks Owe Billions to Executives, 10/31/08) How much of our $250 billion bailout will go to pay for special executive pensions and deferred compensation, including bonuses? Will our disgust with those who brought us the financial melt-down lead to an upsurge in mutual banks and credit unions?
  • Jackie Cook, the founder of Fund Votes, told SocialFunds.com, “Executive compensation is at the heart of a growing problem Continue Reading →
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Good Reads in Corporate Governance: Redefining Materiality II

MarcyMurninghan

Marcy Murninghan

RedefiningMaterialityIIAccountAbility has released a comprehensive report examining the growing importance of non-financial factors on corporate performance, disclosure, and valuation. Redefining Materiality II by Marcy Murninghan was developed in response to accelerating acceptance that non-financial materiality is an influential factor in corporate valuation.

As part of a new series of publications on materiality, the report describes the landscape of various global materiality initiatives and provides a framework for corporate leaders and boards to enhance the definition and management of non-financial materiality. Continue Reading →

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2013 Millstein Forum: Dual-Class Structures, Pro and Con

Sorry to be late and abbreviated in getting out my coverage of this great forum. Be sure to check out the Forum’s photo gallery, which contains many more and much better shots than what I took between notes and conversations.

The second panel discussed the growing issue of dual-class stock structures. While there was considerable debate, my sense is that most in the room see the advantages of such structures do not outweigh the disadvantages. I would like to see more discussion in the broader press about these issues when dual-class companies are going public. Maybe the discount would be even steeper. Continue Reading →

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Vote Disclosure at CalPERS: Example For Other Pension and Mutual Funds

CalPERS-logoLast week I followed up on a proposal made in early 2010 as a result of a couple of resolutions I was able to get enacted through my union in 2009. Yes, these issues take time. You must be tenacious, even when dealing with a fund like CalPERS, where both board and staff want to do the right thing, since there are so many competing needs. I reproduce my testimony below in hopes that others will follow my lead at their pension and mutual funds. Continue Reading →

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Corporate Governance: Stepping Back in Time

MrPeabodysWayBackMachineFive years ago in Corporate Governance

Publisher’s Note: Yes, you’ll find many broken links. After 5, 10 and 15 years, the internet moves on. Many of the organization’s linked have since gone under. We’re just glad to still be here, offering our readers a sense of the history we have shared. 

Since 2005, KLD has studied the S&P 100’s sustainability reporting practices for the Sustainable Investment Research Analyst Network, a working group of the Social Investment Forum. The 2008 Sustainability Report Comparison reveals encouraging news. Of the 100 largest U.S. publicly-traded companies, 86 maintain corporate sustainability websites and 49 produced sustainability reports in 2007. Continue Reading →

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Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN): Proxy Score 64

Amazon.com, Inc. ($AMZN) is one of the stocks in my portfolio. Their annual meeting is coming up on 5/23/2013. ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of three funds when I checked on 5/16/2013.  I voted with management 64% of the time.  View Proxy Statement (high tech AMZN but no hyperlinked index). Warning: Be sure to vote each item on the proxy. Any items left blank are voted in favor of management’s recommendations. (See Broken Windows & Proxy Vote Rigging – Both Invite More Serious Crime) Continue Reading →

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My Notes from Ceres Conference 2013

Let’s just label these notes as “for entertainment purposes only.” Attending the conference was a real pleasure. Unfortunately, I was too busy catching up with people to take more than impressionistic notes at a few of the discussions. Prepare to be frightened about global climate change and our irresponsibly slow pace addressing the catastrophic consequences we are already beginning to see all around us. Save April 30 and May 1 for Ceres Conference 2014 in Boston. Continue Reading →

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Wayback Machine: Five, Ten and Fifteen Years Ago in Corporate Governance

Five years ago in Corporate Governance

Whole Foods Market Inc. (WFMI) says federal securities regulators are recommending that no action be taken against the grocery chain over anonymous postings on financial-news Web sites by its chief executive. Mackey’s postings, including many to CorpGov.net publisher James McRitchie, surfaced when they were included among a trove of documents that Whole Foods turned over to the Federal Trade Commission, which was examining whether the purchase of Wild Oats violated antitrust standards. (Whole Foods Not Penalized Over CEO’s Web Postings, WSJ, 4/28/08) DisclosureThe publisher of CorpGov.net is a WFMI shareowner.

WSJ, using data from Broadridge Financial Solutions, reports that 80 companies that have switched to e-proxy. Only 4.6% of individual shareholders voted under e-proxy, a sharp decline from the 19.2% when the companies sent out traditional paper ballots. Continue Reading →

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