UK - SRI investors Friends, Ivory & Sime has abstained from voting for a shareholder resolution calling on oil giant BP to be more transparent about its decision to drill in culturally and environmentally sensitive areas.
Talking to IPN, Richard Singleton, director of corporate governance at Friends, described the move by both private and other institutional shareholders as “a bit premature”.
Friends holds approximately 1% (£900m) of BP stock.
Eleven percent of shareholders in BP voted in favour of a resolution filed by a coalition of British, European, Canadian and American investors; the move stemmed from BP’s bid to drill for oil in the Alaskan Arctic National Wildlife Refuge earlier this year, a region currently off limits to explorations.
But the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) which coordinated the vote at BP’s AGM last week said that the move by shareholders still sent a clear signal to BP: WWF is delighted with the vote of 11% in favour and an unknown number of abstentions on this resolution,“ said Robert Napier, chief executive of WWF-UK.
“This sends a clear signal to the board that it needs to re-think its policy of operating in environmentally and culturally sensitive areas.
Shelley Alpern, assistant vice president of US-based SRI investment house Trillium Asset Management - which voted in favour of the resolution - said: This vote demonstrates clearly that BP's management is lacking blanket approval from shareholders to move forward in areas like the Alaskan coastal plain, Russia, Indonesia and Colombia.
Singleton said that the reason for Friends’ abstention was two-fold: “We think that what the claim was asking for was much of what was already being offered by BP.”
He added that Friends was uncomfortable with certain supporting statements contained in the text.
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