It’s interesting. Legal & General Investment Management plans to vote against the election of several Amazon directors, including founder, former CEO, amateur astronaut and full-time bodybuilder Jeffrey P. Bezos.
Amazon’s annual general meeting is on Wednesday and 19 issues are up for vote, 15 of which are shareholder proposals – the most since 2010. Our colleagues at the FT have written a good curtain-raiser on what could be a meeting generally tense.
Most notably, LGIM appears to be going to war with the online retail giant. According to a blog post Outlining L&G’s voting intentions at the upcoming annual general meeting, the UK insurance group’s £1.3bn investment arm plans to vote against management on a range of issues.
This is LGIM reasoning for rejecting Bezos:
LGIM intends to vote against the proposal as LGIM expects a board of directors to be regularly renewed in order to maintain an appropriate mix of independence, relevant skills, experience, tenure and experience. LGIM also holds the CEO of the company responsible for any long-standing ESG misconduct.
That’s not all. LGIM also plans to vote against the re-election of Daniel Huttenlocher, the dean of MIT’s computer science college, and Judith McGrath, the former president and CEO of MTV. They sit on and chair Amazon’s Development and Compensation Committee, respectively, which LGIM says “is responsible for failures in human capital management.”
A vote against is also applied as an escalation of compensation issues, as LGIM has had issues with the compensation policy over the past year.
LGIM also plans to vote against Amazon’s recommendations on setting up an independent investigation into the company’s human rights issues; on a policy for the inclusion of non-executive employees on the board of directors; and in favor of commissioning reports examining health and safety disparities among Amazon workers, its use of concealment clausesworking conditions in warehouses, gender and racial pay gaps, corporate tax transparency and whether it protects the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining.
Here is the overview of the asset manager:
LGIM continues to engage with Amazon.com Inc on all of these issues and to push the company to disclose additional information and to be increasingly transparent in its disclosures so that shareholders can effectively assess its policies, actions and accountability. .
Now we don’t think Bezos is shaking in his cowboy boots on LGIM’s voting intentions. While LGIM is Amazon’s 14th-largest shareholder, with 2.93 million shares worth an estimated $9.5 billion at the end of the first quarter, that’s only 0.58% of shares outstanding. from Amazon. Bezos himself controls 9.8%.
But it shows how some asset managers are starting to follow some of the ESG discussions. Schroders also said last week that he would vote against Amazon management’s recommendations in all three workers’ rights resolutions. Of their statement:
This is a request for reporting differences in worker health and safety; a request for a supplementary report on freedom of association and a request for a report on working conditions in warehouses,” said Tim Goodman, head of corporate governance at Schroders.
We believe it is important to support these proposals, which align with our own commitment to the company, call for greater disclosure and promote stronger workers’ rights.
Schroders said he was “also considering other agenda items at this meeting and would likely vote against the board’s recommendations for other proposals in addition to those detailed above.”
The majority of institutions do not disclose how they will vote, but transparency is thankfully on the rise.
The Norwegian sovereign wealth fund, one of the top 10 shareholders with 0.83% of Amazon shares, said it will vote in favor of the entire board of directors, but against the management on the proposals for the commission of reports on the reduction of the use of plastic; tax transparency; unionization in the company; working conditions in its warehouses; and Amazon Rekognition’s facial recognition system on privacy concerns.