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PGGM calls for board shake-up at gold producer Barrick

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Dutch fiduciary manager PGGM is leading an engagement on corporate governance with Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corporation.

The €140bn asset manager is calling for more independent directors on the board of the gold producer, as well as a succession plan for founder and chairman of the board Peter Munk, according to an interview PGGM had with the Wall Street Journal.

It is believed to be one of around 10 fund managers that have signed a letter to Barrick Gold.

A PGGM spokesman said the value of the manager’s stake in the gold producer was slightly over €11m but declined to make any further comments on the case.

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The asset manager has been successful in ousting chairmen before.

In June, the chairman of the supervisory board and the executive chairman at German property fund GSW Immobilien resigned following pressure from shareholders initiated by PGGM.

PGGM has had a structured approach to discussions with companies on environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors since 2006.

Its spokesman said: “In recent years, we have increased the internal capacity to engage with companies on ESG and developed tools to support our engagement such as the ESG index.

“PGGM believes responsible investing pays off, and that we have a social responsibility for our clients.”

PGGM has made the mining sector a priority for its best-practice engagement programme, which started at the end of 2011.

Mining companies have often been the focus of engagement by ESG investors, whether it is about pollution issues at Rio Tinto, indigenous rights issues as seen at Indian mining company Vedanta or workers’ rights as highlighted by the shootings at South African mine Marikana last year.

But, according to a survey by Swiss investment consultancy onValues, institutional investors are largely unaware of the significant role they play in the international gold market.

PGGM is the asset manager of five Dutch pension funds including the second-largest in the country – that of care and welfare sector pension fund Zorg en Welzijn (PFZW).

It is responsible for approximately 2.5m pension scheme members.

Barrick Gold, meanwhile, has been included in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index (DJSI) for the sixth consecutive year

 

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