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PGGM to vote against re-appointment of entire board at mining company

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Dutch asset manager PGGM is to vote against the re-appointment of Barrick Gold Corporation’s entire board after attempts to engage with the company over governance concerns failed. 

Maurice Wilbrink, spokesman for the €189bn asset manager, said: “There haven’t been any improvements since PGGM addressed the company’s policy on governance and remuneration during the shareholders’ meeting last year.”

He said PGGM had a €10m stake in the Canadian company, the world’s largest gold mining firm.

“Weak corporate governance at Barrick is endangering shareholder value over the long term,” Wilbrink added, “and this will come at the expense of the pensions of our client pension funds.”

He declined to elaborate, however, on how exactly Barrick’s governance procedures had failed.

Separately, the €118bn Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) argued that Barrick’s board, despite recent appointments, lacked the requisite mining experience. 

It said it also failed to see a link between the new executive chairman’s pay and the company’s performance.

PGGM, meanwhile, objected to the remuneration package given to Barrick chief executive John Thornton, a former Goldman Sachs banker who received a €3.2m pay rise last year, increasing his salary to €12m.

The mining company’s other board members are also paid too much, it says.

PGGM is involved in a similar dispute with US software firm Oracle, which has refused, it says, to engage with shareholders on remuneration.

Earlier this year, PGGM and UK asset manager Railpen alleged that the interests of insider shareholders were more important those of external stakeholders and concluded that direct communication between shareholders and Oracle’s board was almost impossible.

Barrick did not respond to IPE’s request for comment.

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