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BlackRock pressures boards as annual conferences get going By Reuters 

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The BlackRock brand is seen exterior of its workplaces in New York Metropolis, U.S., October 17, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photograph

By Ross Kerber and Simon Jessop

BOSTON/LONDON (Reuters) -BlackRock voted in opposition to extra firm administrators and backed extra shareholder resolutions within the first quarter than a yr in the past, because the world’s largest asset supervisor seems to be to push boards to do extra on local weather and different sustainability points.

The data from the $9 trillion New York-based cash supervisor in a report back to be launched on Wednesday helps to clarify what’s shaping as much as be a tricky shareholder voting season at main companies this spring.

Simply on Tuesday, traders rejected the pay of executives at GE Corp, as an illustration, and final week gave a file stage of help, 81%, to a decision calling for a report on plastics air pollution at Dupont.

Each votes came about after the first-quarter interval lined by BlackRock (NYSE:)’s report. However in a separate piece posted on its web site on Wednesday BlackRock mentioned it voted in opposition to the pay at GE, and in opposition to board compensation committee members, “given the misalignment of pay and efficiency.”

As well as BlackRock mentioned it supported a decision calling for a so-called “say on local weather” advisory vote on greenhouse gasoline emissions at Constitution Communications Inc (NASDAQ:) on April 27. The measure drew help from 39% of votes solid.

Collectively the fabric urged BlackRock taking a extra aggressive stance underneath Sandy Boss, the corporate’s London-based international head of funding stewardship since 2020.

“We’re accelerating the tempo of our stewardship actions; leading to extra engagement and extra voting, reflecting heightened expectations, which … are only a operate of the urgency of a few of the points,” Boss mentioned in an interview.

Boss declined to touch upon votes since April or upcoming ones. Activists have urged BlackRock and different prime traders to push their portfolio firms extra after years of fund supervisor votes that rubber-stamped administration needs.

Amongst different issues, BlackRock mentioned it had backed three-quarters of the setting and social-focused resolutions filed by shareholders in the course of the first quarter, together with eight environment-focused votes.

In the identical interval final yr, BlackRock’s help for such resolutions was lower than 10%, the report confirmed, together with its opposition to all three environmental resolutions on which it solid ballots.

Of the two,600 shareholder conferences held within the interval, at which BlackRock voted on greater than 21,000 proposals, the cash supervisor mentioned it had voted in opposition to administration on a number of proposals at 35% of conferences, up from 30% a yr earlier.

BlackRock mentioned it didn’t again administrators or director-related proposals 12% of the time, up from 9% a yr in the past. Causes included an absence of board variety, misaligned pay and an absence of independence.

Final yr, BlackRock put 191 firms “on watch” for potential voting motion in 2021 in the event that they didn’t make important progress on managing and disclosing climate-related dangers.

For the primary quarter, BlackRock mentioned it voted in opposition to 53 administrators and 47 firms over local weather points, closing in on the 2020 full-year whole of 64 administrators and 69 firms.

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