Record Year for LAPFF Voting Alerts
Through the intervention of the Covid pandemic and lockdown, LAPFF has issued a record number of voting alerts in the first half of 2020, with votes on nearly 50 resolutions at 22 companies. Many of the voting recommendations were to support climate lobbying and resolutions related to setting carbon emission targets which have received the highest levels of support from shareholders over previous years.
It was encouraging to see the number of resolutions filed with companies and voted for by shareholders in light of the US SEC’s consultation at the beginning of the year which seems to indicate that stricter requirements for filing environmental, social and governance (ESG) resolutions will come into place soon. In recent weeks we have seen the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement and a number of funds approached regarding their investments in companies operating in the Israeli settlements/Occupied Palestinian Territories. With the focus on these societal issues, that are also intrinsic business and investment concerns, related shareholder resolutions on such issues, particularly in the US, appear more relevant and necessary than ever.
We also saw an indication that the use of shareholder resolutions is starting to pick up globally. The Forum issued a voting alert in favour of a climate resolution with a Japanese company, Mizuho Financial Group, and Total – a French company – received a climate-related proposal in a jurisdiction where it is notoriously difficult to file shareholder resolutions. LAPFF has filed shareholder resolutions with Australian companies in the past and did so again this year, with resolutions at Woodside Petroleum and Santos receiving record support.
In short, despite worrying signs from the US that shareholders’ rights to file ESG resolutions with companies might be curtailed, it appears that it is a tool investors are employing in greater numbers and moving toward wider use, globally.