From the Wall Street Journal:
Tucked away in Walmart’s recent proxy statement, under the heading “Recent Governance Enhancements – Shareholder Rights,” is this fun tidbit: “Shareholders holding 10% or more of the company’s common stock may request special shareholders’ meetings.”
For the second year in a row, Walmart shareholders will consider a resolution calling for the establishment of an independent chairman for the company’s board of directors. While investors have long expressed concern about the company’s failures in corporate governance and internal controls, that concern became more acute starting in 2012 after the New York Times published Pulitzer-winning expose detailing an (alleged) systematic campaign of bribery at Walmex, plus an executive-led campaign to cover it up.
Pension-related news this morning:
Dutch pension fund PGGM NV has become the latest European pension fund to blacklist Walmart. It announced last week that it would end its investment in the company because of Walmart’s poor labor practices and the Board of Directors’ unwillingness to “participate in fruitful dialogues with [Walmart] shareholders.”
The final vote count from the Walmart annual meeting is in. With the Walton family owning a majority of company shares, the results were in effect pre-determined. (Spoiler alert: the vote went the way the Waltons wanted. And critics say the new board is weaker and less independent than the old one.) But like last year, the shareholder vote demonstrates considerable dissatisfaction with the company’s leadership, particularly audit committee chair Christopher Williams, CEO Mike Duke, and Chairman Rob Walton.
That’s not us speaking, that’s Christian Brother Investment Services (CBIS). According to its website, CBIS invests more than $4 billion for more than 1,000 Catholic institutions worldwide. And CBIS has announced that it will be voting its shares against three Walmart Directors standing for election at this year’s annual meeting. Getting no votes are CEO Mike Duke, Chairman Rob Walton, and Audit Committee Chair Christopher Williams.
Following the revelation of the bribery scandal last spring, several large Walmart shareholders voiced concerns about Walmart’s governance. New York City Comptroller John Liu, a trustee for the NYC Pension Funds, announced the Fund’s decision to vote against re-electing Walmart directors who were implicated in the bribery scandal. He stated: