Asset manager wants strengthening of shareholder rights

Dhaka,  Fri,  21 July 2017
Published : 18 Jun 2017, 13:35:17 | Updated : 18 Jun 2017, 13:46:34
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Asset manager wants strengthening of shareholder rights

Asset manager wants strengthening of shareholder rights
State Street, the world’s third-largest asset manager, has urged the US financial regulator to block companies from adopting controversial voting structures used by Facebook, Alphabet, and Snap over concerns that they concentrate power in the hands of founders and weaken shareholder rights.

The asset manager, which oversees $2.5 trillion of assets, attended an investor advisory committee meeting at the Securities and Exchange Commission in March, where it called on the watchdog to stop companies limiting the voting rights of shareholders, reports a global media Sunday.

Rakhi Kumar, head of corporate governance at State Street Global Advisors, who attended the meeting, said the regulator needed to intervene as investor efforts to persuade companies to stop using inequitable voting structures have not been effective.

Controversy over voting structures erupted in February when Snap, the technology group, angered investors by becoming the first US company to issue shares at its initial public offering that had no voting powers.

More than a tenth of large US companies in the S&P 500 index offer shares with limited voting power, a practice condemned by investors who prefer a one share, one vote policy.

Facebook has three types of shares. Class A carries one vote per share for external shareholders, Class B carries 10 votes per share for company insiders, and Class C, which was introduced last year, gives shareholders no say on how the company is run.

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, controls 60 per cent of the voting rights.

Alphabet similarly issued a new class of shares in 2015 with no voting rights, enabling Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google, to control nearly 51 per cent of the company’s voting power between them.

- SZ
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