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NEWS - Shareholder Activism Gains S
- Subject: NEWS - Shareholder Activism Gains S
- From: Rangoonp@xxxxxxx
- Date: Thu, 06 May 1999 20:21:00
Subject: NEWS - Shareholder Activism Gains Spotlight On Internet
Shareholder Activism Gains Spotlight On Internet
By Al Yoon
BOSTON (Reuters) - The Domini Social Equity fund has joined the nation's
largest state pension fund CalPERS, with the hope of
engaging investors in social activism by disclosing how its votes on
corporate proxy statements.
In a move to educate its investors, Domini has become the first mutual
fund company to provide Internet access to its proxy voting
decisions that show how it leverages shareholder money.
She said she hopes the disclosure of this previously secret information
will be the next trend in the rapidly growing social investment
Stockholder activism has changed at policies at companies such as Intel
Corp. (Nasdaq:INTC - news) and Atlantic Richfield Co. (NYSE:ARC - news),
She challenged other mutual funds to make their proxy votes public.
``It is shocking that proxy voting decisions are generally not disclosed
to mutual fund shareholders,'' Domini said. ``We believe that
shareholders have an
absolute right to know how their fund managers are voting their
The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), also takes
an active approach by posting its voting decisions on a new Web page, a
CalPERS spokesman said. The nation's largest public pension fund,
CalPERS has $155 billion of assets under management.
``We're trying to influence other investors ... occasionally we would
have released our decision if we were in a proxy fight, if we were
focused on one
company, but now we're trying to put as much up as possible,'' spokesman
Brad Pacheco said.
Shareholder activism has had varying degrees of success, Domini
conceded. But with persistence, corporate stonewalling to shareholder
gives way to productive dialogue, she said.
For instance, it took three years of shareholder resolutions filed by
Domini and others, but eventually oil giant Atlantic Richfield divested
its operation in
Myanmar, previously known as Burma, in 1998.
The United States imposed unilateral sanctions in 1997 against Myanmar
to protest the military government's human rights records. The sanctions
new investments, but allowed existing projects to go ahead.
It also took three years, until 1997, for a broad coalition of
shareholders to get Intel to disclose a list of hazardous chemicals used
at its Albuquerque, N.M.,
plant, she said.
In 1999, 151 companies received 224 resolutions that touched on social
issues, Domini said. She estimated another 100 companies were probably
over social issues that did not require formal action.