Calpers Joins Two Pension Funds Opposing Wal-Mart Directors

Calpers Joins Two Pension Funds in Opposing Wal-Mart Directors
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. signage is displayed outside of a location in American Canyon, California. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System plans to vote against the re-election of nine Wal-Mart Stores Inc. directors following allegations that executives bribed Mexican officials.

Calpers, the pension fund for state employees, made the statement today on its corporate governance website. The fund will vote against directors who were in a position of authority or oversight in 2005, when a senior Wal-Mart lawyer received bribery allegations that may have been covered up by executives and directors, according to a New York Times story last month.

The California asset manager, which held less than 1 percent of Wal-Mart as of March 31, is the among investors coming out against Wal-Mart directors. This month, the New York City Pension Fund said it will vote against five directors. The California State Teachers Retirement System said yesterday it will vote down the entire board when the world’s largest retailer holds its annual meeting June 1.

Connecticut State Treasurer Denise Nappier said today in a statement that the state’s pension fund also will vote its Wal-Mart shares against seven directors, including Chairman Rob Walton, Chief Executive Officer Mike Duke and retired CEO Lee Scott. Connecticut Retirement Plans & Trust Funds owns $38 million in Wal-Mart shares and bonds.

Advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. has also recommended against re-electing four directors.

Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, said on April 23 it is cooperating with investigations by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission that the company violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by bribing Mexican officials to open stores more quickly.

The retailer rose 1.3 percent to $64.58 at the close in New York. The shares have gained 8.1 percent this year.

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