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NBIM Seeks Proxy Access at Six US Companies

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NBIM NYC Office

According to the press release, “Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), manager of the $550 billion Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global, has filed shareholder proposals for proxy access at six US companies as part of its efforts to strengthen shareholder rights.

NBIM filed proposals on Nov. 22 at Wells Fargo, Charles Schwab, Western Union, Staples, Pioneer Natural Resources and CME Group to give shareholders the right to nominate candidates for board elections on company ballots. At filing, the fund held stakes of 0.6 percent to 1.1 percent in these companies, valued at a total $1.4 billion.

The right to nominate candidates to the board of publicly listed companies is a fundamental principle of good corporate governance. While this is upheld by US law, the process is cumbersome and costly because shareholders must submit alternative agendas at annual general meetings and distribute documentation among investors. Proxy access simplifies this process by allowing shareholders to put their nominees straight on the company’s agenda.

“Board members must be held accountable,” says Anne Kvam, global head of ownership policy at NBIM. “When they fail to meet our expectations, we as shareholders should be able to propose alternatives without incurring prohibitively high costs.”

The US Court of Appeals in July rejected a proposal by the US Securities and Exchange Commission to introduce universal proxy access. In the absence of such a rule, NBIM will seek to change the bylaws at US companies where it is particularly important for shareholders to be able to nominate alternative board members, such as corporations that have demonstrated poor corporate governance or unsatisfactory financial performance.

“This is the first time we file proxy access proposals,” says Kvam. “We will continue to identify companies with unsatisfactory performance.”

NBIM proposes each company establish a procedure for shareholders to nominate candidates to the board on the company’s ballot, subject to limits. Shareholders should own a minimum 1 percent of common stock for at least one year to nominate members and may propose no more than 25 percent of a board’s members. A maximum of 25 percent of the members of an elected board may have been nominated by shareholders. The six companies’ annual general meetings will be held in the second quarter of 2012.”

Read more: NBIM Press Release

Scatec Solar Places Big Solar Bet in Bangladesh

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Oslo-based Scatec Solar ASA, a publicly-traded independent power producer operating in the emerging market solar development space, plans to construct and own a 800 mega watt photovoltaic solar power plant in Chandpur, Bangladesh. Scatec Solar has solar assets scattered across numerous emerging markets such as South Africa, Rwanda, Honduras, Egypt, Jordan and the Czech Republic.

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APFC Sells $1.4 Billion Stake in Simpson Housing

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The Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (APFC) embarked on a major shift in its real estate portfolio by selling a 50% ownership stake in Denver-based Simpson Housing LLLP for US$ 1.4 billion. Simpson Housing had made up roughly 24.7% of APFC’s US$ 5.6 billion real estate portfolio. The other owner of Simpson Housing is that State of Michigan Retirement Systems.[ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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ISIF Invests in Cybersecurity Firm Vectra

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The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) committed €10 million to Vectra Networks, Inc., a San Jose, U.S.-based cybersecurity company. The investment capital will assist Vectra in creating a research and development center in Dublin.

ISIF is part of a larger funding round of €30 million. These other investors include Khosla Ventures, Accel Partners, DAG Ventures, AI Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures and Wipro Ventures.

Kevin Dillon, who is the former Head of Microsoft Ireland and a Managing Partner at Atlantic Bridge, will join the board of directors at Vectra.

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