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U.K. Shareholder Revolts Snag More Than a Fifth of Companies

  • Investors’ lobby lists points of conflict in governance push
  • Executive pay topped topics of shareholder-meeting disputes

More than one-fifth of the U.K.’s publicly listed companies had to deal with significant shareholder rebellions this year, according to an investors lobby group seeking to reduce corporate-governance conflicts.

Of the more than 640 companies on the FTSE All-Share index, 22 percent were put on the Investment Association’s new public register, indicating that a shareholders meeting in 2017 had at least one resolution that was withdrawn or received 20 percent dissenting votes, the group said Tuesday in a statement. Issues related to executive pay and board elections topped the list of disputes, the association said.

The register, published for the first time Tuesday, “reveals the true scale of investor concern and shows shareholders flexing their muscles by exercising their votes,” association Chief Executive Officer Chris Cummings said in a statement. “One-third of companies on the public register have responded by publishing a statement on how they are addressing their shareholders’ concerns,” and “we hope more will follow.”

The list compiled by the association, which represents owners of one-third of the stock in U.K. publicly traded companies, stems from an effort by government and business earlier this year to improve company responsiveness to shareholders. The association said that 38 percent of the shareholder-meeting resolutions listed on the register related to management remuneration, and 32 percent concerned re-elections of company directors.

“This is another welcome piece of transparency which should concentrate minds in the boardroom,” Stefan Stern, director of the High Pay Centre and a corporate governance expert, said in an email.

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