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LGIM turns up heat on company boards with voting strategy

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Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM) stepped up its activist role last year by opposing resolutions at more than half of the companies in the FTSE World indexes.

LGIM, the world’s ninth-biggest asset manager according to IPE data, voted against at least one resolution at 56% of company shareholder meetings during 2016, according to its latest corporate governance report. In 2015, this figure was 52%.

The group’s equity funds are predominantly passive, but LGIM said it did not abstain from any vote at UK listed companies. For its UK holdings, LGIM voted against resolutions at 23% of companies, compared with 18% in 2015.

Sacha Sadan, director of corporate governance at LGIM, said the group had strengthened its voting policies on remuneration, board composition, and diversity during last year.

“Consistent and ongoing dialogue with companies is fundamental to our active ownership approach, and we engage with companies throughout the year to effectively influence and change behaviours,” he said.

LGIM voted against 118 pay resolutions at UK companies in 2016, it said. In addition, it has backed the Hampton-Alexander Review, a government-endorsed project to encourage listed companies to have at least a third of leadership roles occupied by women by the end of 2020.

On ESG, another core area of activity for LGIM, the group said it had raised sustainability-related topics at 47% of its 500 company meetings during the year.

LGIM has vowed to vote against board chairs of companies that do not “embrace the transition to a low carbon economy”. In its Future Funds range – which includes the equity default option for HSBC’s defined contribution scheme – LGIM said it would divest from companies that did not adopt low carbon strategies.

Sadan added that “the combined approach of ranking, engaging, voting, and divesting sends a powerful message that investors are serious about tackling this issue”.

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