Stan Life voted against 964 company resolutions

Euan Stirling

Edinburgh-based fund management giant Standard Life Investments issued its Governance & Stewardship Annual Review for 2016 in which it revealed it voted its clients’ shares 430 times against company management recommendations on one or more resolution.

Standard Life Investments, which manages global assets of about £270 billion, said it voted clients’ shares on 19,051 resolutions at 1,569 shareholder meetings — and voted against 964 management recommendations.

The reasons for voting against management recommendations were remuneration and share schemes (42%), pre-emption/dilution matters (26%), board matters (12%) and other issues (20%).

The report detailed voting at Babcock, Barclays, BP, Reckitt Benckiser Group, Sky and Sports Direct International and gave details on engagement activities at Vedanta Resources, WPP, BHP Billiton and Volkswagen.

The fund manager said it held 215 meetings and “other engagement activities” with companies around the world.

It said its key areas of focus when voting were board composition, mergers & acquisitions, pre-emption rights, auditors, remuneration and shareholder rights.

Euan Stirling, Head of Stewardship & ESG Investment, Standard Life Investments, said: “The original shareholder spring of 2012 was replayed in 2016, with widespread dissent in shareholder ranks against excessive pay for management.

“We place particular emphasis on corporate culture and the impact of excessive remuneration and the responsibility of shareholders to hold boards to account.

“The serious implications of failure in these areas suggest that further remedies are likely to be sought.

“The UK binding vote on remuneration policy is now in its third year.

“During 2017, many companies will need to seek authority for a new remuneration policy and we have already been consulted by a significant number of companies on this matter.

“While the binding remuneration policy vote has restricted the amount of discretion available to remuneration committees, it has not addressed the underlying trend of increasing quantum.

“As active investment managers with a focus on active, constructive engagement we believe that we can positively influence the companies in which we invest.”