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Swiss foundation creates on-line voting guide

SWITZERLAND – Ethos, the Geneva based sustainable development investment foundation has launched a shareholder voting section on its website, to give pension funds for which it owns shares, guidelines on how to use their voting rights.

The site provides a summary of the main codes of best practice in corporate governance and also offers examples of recent shareholders’ resolutions on matters of social and environmental concern.

The online voting positions of ethos will be posted on the web the day before general shareholders’ meetings.
This will enable users to have a more precise view of the underlying reasons for the foundation’s positions on issues such as the election of board members, the adoption of remuneration plans, the modification of capital structure, and mergers and acquisitions.

Ethos says it has launched the service in a bid to convince pension funds that the use of shareholder voting rights enhances economic value and that it is the duty of institutional investors to systematically exercise these rights.
“ Voting positions must contribute to increase durably the value of a company, not only for its shareholders but also for all its other stakeholders such as employee, customers suppliers, public bodies and the civil society,” ethos comments.

The ethos investment foundation manages CHF850m (e554m) for 89 pension funds according to its sustainable development criteria.
The ethos investment fund, launched in February 2000, is open to all categories of investors and manages CHF50m, using the same investment concept.

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