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activist ‘wolves’ throw investors into confusion

May 2007

Socially responsible investors in the US have been warned about SRI-like resolutions being proposed for company meetings that reprehend the board for approving CSR measures.

An email alert from four SRI specialists sent to subscribers to Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), the corporate governance proxy voting advisory service, says anti-CSR bodies such as the Free Enterprise Action Fund (FEAF) are tabling resolutions that call for better disclosure on issues such as charitable giving, climate change and sustainability. But notes to the resolutions often go on to criticize the company for its stance on social and environmental matters.

A recent FEAF resolution calling for increased transparency at Goldman Sachs, which ISS advised its clients to vote in favour of, went on to criticize the bank’s policy on sustainable forestry, while a similar resolution at General Electric’s annual meeting contained condemnation of the company for policies that the FEAF – an investment fund that aims to counter ‘left-wing social and political activists’ – says are ‘siding with global warming activists’.

The alert, which likens the groups tabling the resolutions to ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing,’ says many ISS subscribers have automatically been voting in favour of the resolutions because they appear supportive of SRI. Other companies targeted include Du Pont and Wal-Mart.



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