Governance News 15 March 2023

45 minute read + (PDF download)  15.03.2023 Mark Standen, Siobhan Doherty, Kate Hilder

This week we cover the (re)introduction of the legislation to establish the CSLR and the announcement of a planned review of the MIS framework. On the ESG front, we cover PRI's take on how investors should respond to lack of corporate action on majority shareholder ESG proposals, the results of Apple's shareholder meeting, Pfizer and Amex's unsuccessful attempts to block shareholder reproductive rights proposals and more… 

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Diversity Navigation Show below Hide below

  • Top Story | Ethnic/racial diversity in focus: Parker Review gives companies five years to meet new ethnicity targets
  • Gender diversity | Strong support among Australian retail shareholders for listed companies to do more to increase gender diversity, but quotas not supported
  • In Brief | European Gender Diversity Barometer highlights that though the majority of the largest European listed companies are already compliant with the European Gender Balance Law, women remain underrepresented in Chair roles as well as executive leadership roles

Shareholder Activism Navigation Show below Hide below

  • Clean sweep: Apple shareholders approved all board-endorsed proposals, rejected all five shareholder ESG proposals at 10 March 2023 shareholder meeting
  • Amex and Pfizer unsuccessful in blocking shareholder reproductive rights proposals
  • PNC Financial successfully blocks shareholder weapons financing proposal
  • Green Century withdraws proposal in exchange for commitment from Morgan Stanley to strengthen its deforestation policies
  • Santos and Woodside shareholders urged to use their voting power to signal concern about the companies' climate strategies
  • Activist Carl Icahn is pushing for board change at Illumina

Institutional Shareholders and Stewardship Navigation Show below Hide below

  • Why lack of corporate responsiveness to majority shareholder proposals should 'raise red flags' for investors and what they should do about it: Insights from the PRI
  • Director accountability for climate action: UK pension funds flag plans to vote against individual directors where climate expectations are not met

ESG  Navigation Show below Hide below

  • Senate Committee recommends passage of the National Reconstruction Fund Bill
  • New National Health and Climate Strategy to establish three year plan to reduce carbon emissions in the health and aged care sectors
  • Developing new carbon capture and storage technology: CSIRO launches $20 million research program

Disclosure and Reporting Navigation Show below Hide below

  • Canada introduces new climate management/reporting obligations for financial institutions
  • Democrats urge SEC not to water down its proposed climate disclosure rule and to finalise the rule as soon as possible
  • CDP says support for disclosure under the CDP annual questionnaire is up nearly 10% on last year

Financial Services Navigation Show below Hide below

  • Hayne implementation: New CSLR Bills (re)introduced
  • Government announces (planned) review of the MIS framework
  • ASIC releases final update on compensation paid by major institutions in connection with fee for no service conduct and non-compliant advice
  • DDO enforcement | ASIC issues another interim stop order
  • Life insurance: APRA to remake LPS 199, LPS 115, LPS 360 and LPS 370 without amendment
  • Home loan introducer program: Bank fined $10 million
  • In Brief | Independent Financial Adviser reports that the government will not release its response to the Quality of Advice Review until after the May budget
  • In Brief | APRA has reportedly said it is stepping up its supervision of banks the wake of the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and has called on lenders to provide information about their exposure.  In a statement, the ABA made clear that Australian banks remain 'strong'.  The ABA asserts that Australian banks are 'well capitalised and already meet…"unquestionably strong" benchmarks…Australian banks have this year implemented revised capital requirements, further strengthening financial resilience'

Other News Navigation Show below Hide below

  • Whistleblowing Review: Federal government urged to implement measures to support migrant workers to speak out against exploitation
  • In Brief | As part of the ACCC's five year digital platform services inquiry, the regulator has announced it will 'examine the expanding ecosystems of digital platform service providers [eg Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta (Facebook)]  in Australia' – that is, big tech platforms' continued investment/expansion into interconnected 'smart' products and services (eg smart home devices) as well as consumer cloud storage.  Submissions on the issues paper are due by 5 April 2023
  • In Brief | 'International intellectual property services group' IPH Ltd has been placed in trading halt (at its request) to enable it to 'manage its continuous disclosure obligations in relation to a cyber incident that IPH has recently become aware of'.  As yet, no further details of the incident have been released 

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