UK investors will soon be able to access corporate governance analysis and electronic voting capability on companies in 80 other countries, as well as the UK, through a new joint venture announced today by the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) and the US-based corporate governance agency, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS).
A new UK company, RREV (Research, Recommendations and Electronic Voting), is to be formed jointly and owned equally by the NAPF and ISS, and the new services are set to be launched in London in January 2004. The new company will offer service to institutional investors and fund managers already subscribing to the NAPF’s Voting Issues Service, and to UK clients of ISS. Corporate governance policy and voting recommendations on UK companies put forward by the new company to UK and overseas clients will be in line with NAPF standards.
The new services will include corporate governance analysis and recommendations, based on NAPF policy, for all FTSE All-Share companies, and not just the current top 350; global access to analyses of, and voting recommendations on, 22,000 companies in around 80 countries, including the US; Electronic voting capabilities on UK and global securities; a new, web-based portal allowing easy access to the new services at any time; and access to corporate governance policy and research services offered by the NAPF and ISS.
“There has been a noticeable and welcome upswing in shareholder activism in recent months,” says NAPF Chief Executive, Christine Farnish, who announcing the new venture at the NAPF’s Annual Conference in Glasgow today. “Today’s announcement highlights the NAPF’s determination to build on its position at the cutting edge of corporate governance debate, and to deliver enhanced governance services both to shareholders and to the companies in which they invest. This venture brings together two of the world’s most recognised leaders in corporate governance and electronic voting. For the first time, UK investors will have access to analysis and recommendations on thousands of companies worldwide, through the same portal. The new company will offer them a groundbreaking new web-based service, allowing them easy access to data, and enabling them to vote electronically. This is an exciting new venture and I look forward to working with ISS – an acknowledged leader in global corporate governance issues.”
The new company will come into being in January 2004 under the direction of a board of 8 directors – four each from the NAPF and ISS. In the coming months, the NAPF and ISS will be putting in place a schedule of training and information to enable current and new customers to make the most of the new service.
“We are pleased to be working with an organisation of such high calibre as the NAPF to help bring a comprehensive suite of governance and voting services to UK investors,” concludes ISS Chief Executive, James Heard. “Today, more than ever, it is critical that investors actively manage portfolio holdings and influence better corporate behaviour through informed proxy voting. RREV will provide the tools to do just that.”
According to figures published by UBS Global Management, around 25 per cent of UK pension funds’ assets were invested in overseas equities in 2001, compared with just 10 per ent in 1981. NAPF Member schemes hold assets of around 600 billion, and account for over a fifth of total investment in the UK stock market.