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ESG: In 2011 High-Tech Companies are Redefining What it Means to be Green

In the last few years, many major corporations like Mexico’s Cemex (BMV:CEMEXCPO), Spain’s Iberdrola S.A. (Madrid Stock Exchange: IBE) and Belgium’s Anheuser-Busch InBev (EBR:ABI) have started to view their environmental and climate change policies as part of their broader strategies for long-term sustainability. Environmental advocates are definitely paying attention. At a recent event on sustainability […]

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Money Matters: Say on Pay Contests Heat Up in U.S.: NVR Hit with NO Vote

On May 3, 2011 NVR Inc (NYSE:NVR), a construction and financing company, heard resounding disapproval of its executive pay policies at its annual meeting when its Say on Pay ballot item was rejected by shareholders. Fifty-five percent of the company’s shareholders voted “NO.” Shareholders, it seems, aren’t happy with NVR’s CEO’s $30M pay package and […]

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Japan in Focus: Why Risk Management Matters

On March 11, Japan was hit by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and later bombarded by a 45 foot tall tsunami. The disaster caused billions of dollars worth of damage to residential and commercial property and also damaged a nuclear reactor that was operated by the Tokyo Electric Power Company, Inc. (TSE: 9501) [TEPCO], sending dangerous […]

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Tele-novela: Ongoing Board Accountability Issues at Mexico’s Televisa

In a “telenovela” worthy performance, lawyers for Mexico's largest television broadcaster, Grupo Televisa, S.A. (BMV: TLEVISA) recently brought criminal charges against the widow of the company’s former Chairman, a move that led to her arrest in Mexico City and brought about an abrupt end to her legal battle for a $500 million stake in the […]

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SPOTLIGHT: The Problem With American Financial’s Insular Board

Bucking up against rising public interest in boardroom diversity, American Financial Group (NYSE:AFG) recently called for shareholders to vote against a proposal from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ECLA) and Calvert Asset Management that asked the company to take proactive steps to add female and minority candidates to its board. The company’s board, which […]

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CSR Focus: Socially Responsible Investing Gaining Mainstream Approval

Since 2008, stories of financial malfeasance, greed, and outright fraud have dominated most mainstream media outlets. The role that the absence of accountability played in the credit crisis has been explored in a wide range of recent movies, from comedies like The Other Guys to dramas like Wall Street 2 and documentaries like Inside Job. […]

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European Union: Pushing for Enhanced Disclosure Requirements

In the wake of the 2009 financial crisis, there has been increased public concern about the adequacy of corporate financial disclosure and regulatory disclosure. Since 2005, the European Union has required companies to start reporting their financial results following IFRS standards. The widespread adoption of IFRS has helped provide investors with reliable and uniform financial […]

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Money Matters: U.S. Adopts Say on Pay for 2011 Proxy Season

On January 25, 2011, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted to approve a provision that provides shareholders with the right to advisory “Say on Pay” votes. The non-binding votes allow shareholders at any U.S. company with more than $75 million of shares trading publicly with the right to voice their disapproval over executive […]

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Chile: Governance Concerns Weaken Foundation of Latin America’s Star Economy

A year has passed since the devastating 8.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked Chile in February 2010. Far from collapsing under the weight of the global recession and earthquake recovery efforts, Chile’s economy has rebounded, growing at a brisk 4% rate in 2010. However, the country’s strong macroeconomic performance masks a number of serious micro issues, […]

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Hong Kong: Governance Issues at Family Companies Hurt Shareholder Value

Hong Kong has long been known as challenging market where an interconnected web of family controlled companies earn headlines alternately for impressive financial performance and eye-brow raising scandals. The most recent controversy involves Macao billionaire Stanley Ho, the octogenarian family patriarch, who together with the 17 children he fathered with various women, owns a controlling […]

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SPOTLIGHT: Spain: Investors Wait for Possible Change to Laws on Voting Caps

Some governance activists are cheering recent moves by the Spanish government that could strip away legal provisions that restrict voting rights at major publicly listed companies and protect management from the risk of outside takeover. Other analysts, however, worry that the proposed rule changes could help Spain’s debt-laden construction companies gain control of the country’s […]

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SPOTLIGHT: New Indices Help Investors Measure Value of Corporate Governance

Across the globe, investors are continuing to recognize corporate governance as a key factor to boosting returns. This has been supported by a number of studies and new findings including a new report by the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA), a network of socially responsible investors based out of Australia and New Zealand. The RIAA’s […]

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2010 In Focus: Board Diversity and Director Qualifications Attracting Attention

In countries across the globe the topics of director qualifications and gender diversity in the board room are emerging as a key topic in many public debates. In March 2008 GMI started tracking gender diversity at public companies and in June 2009 GMI started tracking the financial expertise, industry experience, and risk management knowledge of […]

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EU Court Declares Portuguese Energy Giant EDP’s Golden Shares Illegal

On November 11, 2010, Europe's highest court ruled that Portugal's golden shares in national energy firm Energias de Portugal, S.A. (Lisbon Stock Exchange: EDP) violate European Union law. "The golden shares are an unjustified restriction on the free movement of capital”, the European Court of Justice “ECJ”) said in a statement. The golden shares, which […]

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Indian Automotive Giant says “Ta-Ta” to Powerful Chairman

In August 2010, India’s largest conglomerate, Tata Sons, the parent group to Tata Motors Limited (Bombay Stock Exchange: 500570), announced that it would finally say goodbye to its long serving chairman and former Chief Executive. The company announced that Ratan Tata, a member of the company’s high-profile founding family, would step down in two years. […]

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Talk Softly or Carry a Big Shtick? Corporate Political Spending Faces Scrutiny

In August 2010, Target Corporation (NYSE: TGT) found itself facing down a group of angry protesters, who gathered around the company’s headquarters to voice their opposition to the company’s decision to contribute money to the campaign of a right-of-center politician with controversial views in several high-profile policy areas. Ilyse Houge, a spokeswoman from left-of-center political […]

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SPOTLIGHT: Jailed GOME Founder Continues to Cause Problems

GOME Electrical Appliances Holding (Hong Kong Stock Exchange: 0493), a Bermuda chartered Chinese company with a bottom of the barrel overall global corporate governance rating of 2.0 from GMI as of September 2010, is back in the news again. In the weeks before the company’s September 28, 2010 annual meeting, the company’s founder, Huang Guangyu, […]

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SPOTLIGHT: Shareholders Starting to Take Notice of Problems at Samsung

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd, a South Korean company that has alternately been lauded as a emerging tech giant and criticized for failing to shed many of the vestiges of poor governance that are typical of the country’s chaebol system, is back in the news again. On March 23, when Lee Kun-Hee, a recently convicted felon, […]

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Japan: A Rising Sun of Governance Improvement?

On April 5, 2010, the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) reported that nearly 200 firms had failed to comply with the country’s new listing requirements for board independence. By next year all firms are expected have at least one independent director. According to data from the TSE, almost one in ten of the 2,094 companies that […]

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Corporate Politics in the United States: Can Free Speech Come at a Cost to Investors?

On January 21, 2010 in Citizens United v. FEC, a highly publicized case with wide implications for the Environmental, Social, Governance and Socially Responsible Investing universe, the United States Supreme Court overruled previous decisions, and in a contentious 5-4 decision, ruled that while the government may regulate corporate political speech through disclaimer and disclosurerequirements, it […]

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