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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

QIA Becomes the Largest Shareholder in Colonial

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The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) became the biggest shareholder of Inmobiliaria Colonial, SOCIMI, S.A. (Colonial), a Spanish listed real estate company. [ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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Mumtalakat Discloses Investment in Khairat Bahrain

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Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company disclosed an investment in Sudan called Khairat Bahrain. This is an agricultural investment in Sudan. The food and agriculture sector is key investment sector for many Gulf-based state investors. Khairat Bahrain is located in the world’s richest expanse of groundwater (the Nubian Sandstone Basin) occupying an area of approximately 100,000 feddans (400 square kilometers). The Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System is the world’s largest known fossil water aquifer system.

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Temasek Acquires Cybersecurity Firm Sygnia

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Singapore’s Temasek Holdings agreed to acquire Sygnia, Inc., an Israeli cybersecurity technology and services provider. Unverified estimates of the deal amount are around US$ 250 million. Sygnia runs out of Tel Aviv, but has an office in New York. Sygnia assists companies respond to cyber threats.

[ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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