NETHERLANDS – Royal Dutch/Shell is possibly facing a revolt by Dutch pension funds at its AGM on June 28, according to the corporate governance manager at PGGM.
Sylvia van Waveren, manager of corporate governance at the €53bn Dutch healthcare pension fund, told IPE she was reviewing whether to support Shell for its previous strategy, which has led to four restatements downwards of its proven oil reserves since January and management changes. She said: “The big issue is whether to discharge the board of Shell at its AGM, as this would mean approval for its past strategy and accounting.”
The decision was to be made this week and she would be representing PGGM and other large pension funds at the AGM, she added. The €161bn ABP fund also said it would attend the meeting and was formulating its decision this week. Shell’s spokeswoman said: “We are sensitive and aware of these concerns. An announcement will be made as soon as we are able to.”
The FT reported that $160bn US pension fund giant CalPERs and US-based activist investor Knight Vinke had also criticised Shell for lack of transparency over its review of the company’s Dutch-British structure and board. And the UK’s Association of British Insurers said it would probably issue an ‘amber top’ letter to its members about voting on Shell’s remuneration report after shareholders were left “slightly frustrated” following a meeting with the company at the start of the week, the FT reported.
Van Waveren said, however, corporate governance in the Netherlands generally was “certainly improving, and rapidly, but remuneration, or paying too much, is still a puzzle”. She has yet to hear back from ING, for example, about questions on board remuneration that she raised at its AGM in April. Van Waveren is a director of the Dutch Federation on Corporate Governance for Pension Funds (FCGOP) and said Numico and Ahold, which had both faced criticism of their corporate governance standards, had improved. “Improving corporate governance will see better returns and the Dutch share price discount turn into a premium.”