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US pension funds welcome Marsh & McLennan board decision

GLOBAL- A group of US pension funds, including the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, which together hold 1.3% of Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc.,(MMC), have welcomed the company’s decision to add Zachary Carter to the list of nominees for election to the board of directors at MMC.

Carter’s nomination came after AFSCME Employees Pension Plan, New York State Common Retirement Fund, NYSCRF, California Public Employees’ Retirement System CalPERS, and the California State Teachers’ Retirement system CalSTRS filed in December a shareholder proposal to nominate and elect independent directors.

MMC said the investors have now withdrawn their proposal and that it will be including in its proxy statement new procedures institutionalising investor input in selecting future nominees to its board.

After the funds filed the proposal, MMC management, the company said, entered “a constructive dialogue” with the investors.

“The investor group identified several possible candidates for the board. MMC nominated Mr. Carter and recommended to shareholders that he be elected”, said MMC.

“Marsh & McLennan today demonstrated clearly that it is responsive to its shareholders and determined to put to rest any investor concerns about its Putnam mutual fund subsidiary” said New York State Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi, sole trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund.

“Mr. Carter is an excellent choice. He is a brilliant lawyer with a long and distinguished career of public service. He will bring important expertise and experience that can only help MMC.”

“As a new independent director, Mr. Carter strengthens the board by making it more accountable and sensitive to shareholder concerns," said Gerald W. McEntee, AFSCME Employees Pension Plan Chairman.

"CalPERS applauds the action of Marsh & McLennan's board to nominate an independent director. We are impressed that Marsh & McLennan has taken this step. This nomination, in and of itself, should encourage investors to have confidence in MMC and its board," said CalPERS Board President Sean Harrigan

"We hope other companies follow Marsh & McLennan's lead, acting on shareholders' desire for increased board independence," said Jack Ehnes, chief executive officer of CalSTRS.

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