Dobson's Schroders Appointment Opposed by Almost 15% of Voters

Michael Dobson’s appointment as non-executive chairman of Schroders Plc was approved by shareholders despite accusations that Europe’s largest publicly traded manager had breached corporate governance principles.

Dobson’s new role was opposed by 14.9 percent of shareholders who voted. A further 3.7 million votes were withheld. Last year, 97.7 percent of the investor vote backed the re-election of Dobson, who had held the job of CEO since 2001.

The U.K. corporate governance code states that ordinarily a CEO should not go on to become chairman and when it happens, the board should consult shareholders. Peter Harrison, 49, was promoted to chief executive officer of Schroders earlier this year, replacing Dobson, who was to become non-executive chairman at the firm next month when current chairman Andrew Beeson retires.

“While we recognize the significant contribution that Michael Dobson has made in his tenure as CEO, we are not able to support the decision,” Hans-Christoph Hirt, co-head of Hermes Equity Ownership Services Ltd., said in a statement. “It’s a breach of a fundamental principle of U.K. corporate governance and best practice.”

Hermes joined Royal London Asset Management in voting against the appointment, saying the move was a “clear violation” of the code.

Schroders said in March that the fund manager had spoken to major shareholders and clients about the move ahead of Dobson’s appointment, for which he will be paid 625,000 pounds ($911,810) a year.

“We had a very strong message from investors that they wanted continuity in a firm which is about the long term,” Harrison said in a telephone interview Thursday prior to the vote. “I feel very lucky to have Mike there as a sounding board.”

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