Legal & General Investment Management votes against 1 in 5 UK companies in 2015
Cyber-security, climate change, corporate tax and diversity rise up the investor agenda
Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM), one of the largest investors in the UK stock market, today released its 2015 Corporate Governance report announcing that it voted against at least one resolution at 18% of UK companies in 2015 and saw a significant increase in voting against company resolutions in other parts of the world, particularly the US and Europe.
In total, LGIM attended 545 company meetings in 2015, with 45% of these meetings held with companies based outside of the UK.
Commenting on the report, Sacha Sadan, Director of Corporate Governance at LGIM, said: “Active ownership of the companies in which we invest is at the heart of what we do as an asset manager. We believe that good corporate governance adds value, while poor governance can destroy it. This impacts not just equity investors, but investors across all asset classes.
The key themes addressed in LGIM’s corporate governance report include:
The majority of adverse votes cast by LGIM in the UK were against remuneration-related resolutions. Out of the 188 resolutions that LGIM voted against in 2015, approximately 50% (93) were on remuneration. Only last week LGIM voted against BP’s remuneration package because it felt there was poor alignment between long-term shareholder returns and executive remuneration.
Since warning companies in 2013 that LGIM would vote against multiple and complex pay schemes, the number of companies having more than one incentive plan is down from 43% three years ago to 18% today. We expect this to continue to fall in the future.
In its 2015 report, LGIM also expresses concerns about the lack of transparent corporate tax practices by companies. It wants companies to be more transparent in their tax affairs by articulating their tax policy and tax governance approach more effectively. It also believes best practice involves country by country reporting, as implemented by our parent company Legal & General, whereby multinational companies should publish the amount and type of taxes borne in each territory where they operate as outlined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Cyber-security remains a focus, with LGIM calling for compulsory external cyber audits to be conducted by companies, to identify areas of weakness that need strengthening. LGIM also states its intention to question company directors and boardrooms on the issue in its engagement activities in future.
Elsewhere in the report, LGIM celebrates the outcomes from the Paris climate conference in 2015 (COP 21), which gives a clear commitment to limiting greenhouse gas emissions. LGIM expresses its commitment to continue working with policy makers and companies to support the ultimate objectives to limit global warming rises to less than 2 degrees Celsius.
LGIM has pushed hard on board diversity. Five years ago only 12.5% of companies met the target for a quarter of female board members; today that figure is 26.1%.
Sadan added, “Despite remuneration still being a key concern, I believe that corporate governance has evolved from just voting on pay related issues. Our report shows the issues on which we engage with companies ranges widely from climate change to cyber-security and continues to evolve.
“We are pleased that some progress was made last year particularly in the areas of board diversity and the pay schemes of FTSE 100 companies. Looking ahead, we remain committed to engaging and collaborating with the companies we invest in, as we protect our clients’ interests, improve companies by ensuring boards and management are aligned for long-term growth and promote corporate governance best practice across the globe.”
For further information please contact:
Media Relations Manager, LGIM
t: +44 (0) 20 3124 4355
Notes to editors:
LEGAL & GENERAL INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT:
Legal & General Investment Management is one of Europe’s largest asset managers and a major global investor, with total assets of £757 billion*. We work with a wide range of global clients, including pension schemes, sovereign wealth funds, fund distributors and retail investors.
Throughout the past 40 years we have built our business through understanding what matters most to our clients and transforming this insight into valuable, accessible investment products and solutions. We provide investment expertise across the full spectrum of asset classes including fixed income, equities, commercial property and cash. Our capabilities range from index-tracking and active strategies to liquidity management and liability-based risk management solutions.
*as at 31 December 2015, including derivative positions and advisory assets.