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NEW YORK, N.Y., September 13, 2017 - The new ProxyPulse™ report released today by Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc. (NYSE:BR) and PwC’s Governance Insights Center shows that institutional and retail investors tended to vote their shares differently on issues ranging from climate change to board diversity.
During the 2017 proxy season, climate change proposals were supported by 66% of institutional shares voted versus only 13% of retail shares. Board diversity proposals were supported by 31% of institutional shares voted versus 14% of retail shares. This report is based on analysis of 3,379 U.S. public company annual shareholder meetings held between January 1 and June 30, 2017.
“The data shows that institutional shareholders’ voting actions are consistent with their stated positions on climate change and board diversity. Patience appears to have run out for some institutions,” said Chuck Callan, senior vice president, regulatory affairs, Broadridge. “At the same time, retail shareholders as a group largely voted in line with company recommendations.”
In addition to the insight that institutional and retail investors voted differently on climate change and board diversity, several other findings were of note:
Decline in Proxy Contests
While shareholder activism continued to receive a great deal of attention this season, proxy contests decreased compared to the same period last year. During the first half of 2016 there were 47 contests, compared to only 38 for the same period this year. The average length of campaigns decreased drastically in the first half of 2017: 44 days, compared to 109 days for the entire year of 2016.
Paul DeNicola, managing director of the Governance Insights Center for PwC, noted, "The decrease in proxy contests and shortening of the length of campaigns clearly illustrates that boards are negotiating more with activists, and settling faster."
Decline in Shareholder Proposals that Went to a Vote
Shareholder proposals that went to a vote decreased from 506 in the first half of 2016 to 430 this season. Institutional and retail shareholder support for shareholder proposals varied greatly. Institutional shareholders were much more supportive of proposals across the various categories – typically two to three times that of retail shareholders.
Virtual Shareholder Meetings Continue to Grow
Virtual-only annual meetings grew in popularity, as 163 companies had virtual-only shareholder meetings as of June 30, 2017 -- compared to 122 during the first half of 2016. But this was not without controversy as some shareholders, including the New York City Pension Funds and the Council of Institutional Investors, voiced concerns with the absence of in-person annual meetings.
Additional details, insights, graphics, data, and observations can be found at http://www.proxypulse.com/.
ProxyPulse is based in part on Broadridge’s processing of shares held in street name, which accounts for more than 80 percent of all shares outstanding of U.S. publicly-listed companies. Shareholder voting trends during a proxy season represent a snapshot in time and may not be predictive of full-year results.
ProxyPulse is a collaboration between Broadridge, the leading provider of investor communications solutions and PwC’s Governance Insights Center, a group that supports directors and investors with governance knowledge. Visit ProxyPulse.com to access the full report.
Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc. (NYSE:BR) a global fintech leader, provides investor communications and technology-driven solutions for broker-dealers, banks, mutual funds and corporate issuers globally. Broadridge’s investor communications, securities processing and managed services solutions help clients reduce their capital investments in operations infrastructure, allowing them to increase their focus on core business activities. With over 50 years of experience, Broadridge’s infrastructure underpins proxy voting services for over 90 percent of public companies and mutual funds in North America, and processes more than $5 trillion in fixed income and equity trades per day. Broadridge employs approximately 10,000 full-time associates in 16 countries. For more information about Broadridge, please visit www.broadridge.com.
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PwC’s Governance Insights Center supports directors and investors with governance knowledge to answer tough questions and tackle complex challenges. Learn from our network of subject-matter experts, business leaders, and experienced peers as they share their insights and the latest thinking on current issues. Beyond governance, we help directors and investors better understand new financial accounting standards so they can make better oversight and investment decisions. The center connects all the dots for a more complete perspective. For more information, please visit: http://www.pwc.com/us/en/governance-insights-center.
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