Sharp rise in shareholder dissent

Sharp rise in shareholder dissent

Shareholders are increasingly raising concerns about director accountability, according to analysis by the Investment Association.

The IA, the trade body for investment managers, analysed data available from the 2018 annual general meetings of FTSE All-Share companies, in the run up to the midpoint of the AGM season. 

The number of individual director-related resolutions with more than 20 per cent of  votes against rose from 27 in 2017 to 54 in 2018, an increase of 100 per cent, the research found.

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Within the data sample, 94 companies were added to the Public Register, which aims to focus attention on firms that have seen considerable shareholder dissent and track whether and how they are addressing those concerns.

More than a third (37 per cent) of all the companies added to the Public Register in 2018 also appeared on the Public Register in 2017, the IA state.

It added there are 28 instances of companies appearing on the Public Register in 2017 and 2018 for the same resolution.

Andrew Ninian, director of stewardship and corporate governance at the IA, said: “The Public Register is shining a spotlight on companies subject to high levels of shareholder rebellion.

"After only seven months of operation, the increased scrutiny brought by the Public Register is clearly working, with three quarters of companies acknowledging the shareholder dissent at the time of their AGM, and crucially explaining how they intend to address those concerns.

"We now expect these companies to follow-up with a further statement within six months of their AGM, outlining the actions taken and views heard from their shareholders. 

“An emerging trend midway through this year’s AGM season is the increase in directors receiving high votes against their re-election. Directors are getting a very clear message from shareholders that they will be held accountable for their actions.

"Investors also remain concerned over executive pay. Our members expect these companies to act when challenged over governance issues, including high levels of pay and director accountability.”