Public-Pension Funds Play with Newest Toy in Corporate Governance
During the recent proxy season, Scott Stringer – comptroller of New York City and the custodian and investment adviser to the New York City Pension Funds – took advantage of an amended Securities and Exchange Commission rule to submit 75 of the 108 proxy-access proposals that were received by publicly traded companies. From Comptroller Stringer’s perspective, he was wildly successful. Of the 75 proposals submitted, 63 went to a vote, with 56 percent average support. Of those 63, 41 received majority support. Moreover, at six companies where withdrawal of the proxy access proposal was negotiated, management agreed to adopt proxy access or put forward a management-sponsored proposal next year. But was it a win for beneficiaries of the New York City Pension Funds or for shareholders in general? The answer is very much in doubt.