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Norwegian oil fund to publish voting intentions from 2015

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Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) will start publishing its voting intentions from next year, according to asset manager Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM).

The NOK 5.4trn (€647bn) sovereign fund, one of the world’s largest, already publishes how it voted in shareholder resolutions the day after each company’s annual general meeting (AGM).

It said earlier this year that, in a move to increase transparency further, it would disclose its voting intention prior to each meeting.

In its Strategy Plan 2014-16, which also revealed that the fund would look to double the number of companies in which it owns a 5% stake, it stressed that voting was its “primary means” of exercising shareholder rights.

It added: “We will make our voting intentions public before the annual shareholder meetings to increase transparency and encourage initiatives to strengthen the vote execution chain.”

A spokesman for NBIM told IPE the fund aimed to start disclosing its voting intentions from 2015, but only for “selected companies”.

He declined to provide any further details about its plans for prior disclosure, including how soon in advance of an AGM the manager would publish a statement.

In June’s report, the fund said environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues would be raised as agenda items, and that it would look to “expand” its involvement with companies in which it had material holdings.

It cited greater involvement in board nomination procedures, either through direct dialogue with the company chairman or through its membership on nomination committees, as an area on which it would focus increasingly.

The fund last April chose to appoint NBIM chief executive Yngve Slyngstad as its representative on the nomination committee for Swedish car manufacturer Volvo, in which it owned a 4.5% stake at the time.

NBIM has since grown its holdings from NOK7.2bn at the end of 2012 to NOK10.1bn at the end of 2013, equivalent to 5.85% of the company’s total shares.

Last year, the fund also said it had set up a three-strong Corporate Governance Advisory Board to help it better “safeguard” its value.

The board comprises UK academic John Kay, author of a report that led to the launch of the UK Investor Forum, former Hermes Pension Management chief executive Tony Watson and Peter Montagnon.

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