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IPE special report May 2018

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ABP to triple its voting at AGMs

NETHERLANDS - The giant civil service scheme ABP will drastically increase its voting at shareholders meetings, as a further improvement of its corporate governance policy, officials have announced.

The €211bn pension fund is aiming to eventually vote at all the AGMs of approximately 5,000 companies in its portfolio, it said.

ABP expects to triple its voting at AGMs to over 3,000 companies this year and its voting behaviour will then be announced on its website, two weeks after the meeting, it added.

The pension fund itself will make extensive analysis of approximately 100 selected companies on a ‘full voting' list, it indicated. This is in addition to the voting advice received from consultant Glass Lewis for the remainder of its portfolio.

To find a balance between securities lending and corporate governance, ABP will apply a rule stating there must always be a minimum of 10% of the shares available, as a base for its voting.

The scheme said it will, in principle, always vote with all its shares at the AGM of companies on its full voting list. Loaned securities will be set aside, with the absence of controversial subjects on the agenda as the only possible exception, it made clear.

According to ABP, its former corporate governance code focused on what ABP expects from companies but the new rules are based much more on the performance of the scheme itself.

"This two-track policy fits within ABP's principle that corporate governance isn't a goal in itself, but must contribute to an improved risk-return profile of the equity portfolio, including the listed real estate," it added.

"We are proud that we can stay among the leaders of institutional investors on corporate governance and transparency on it," Roderick Munsters, CIO of ABP, commented.

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