GLOBAL - Multinational giant British American Tobacco and engineering group Mayflower face pension fund protests over the "unacceptable" use of shareholder funds to finance political donations.
The attack is being led by the UK’s Pensions Investment Research Consultants, which is advising members to object to any political donations put to the vote at annual general meetings.
Last week, PIRC recommended abstention on the report and accounts at information services group Reed Elsevier’s annual general meeting because of a £93,000 donation to US political parties.
It advised opposition to Mayflower report and accounts at its annual meeting today because of a £4000 donation to the Conservative Party. Former Tory leader John Major stepped down as a non-executive director at the meeting.
And it is recommending opposition to the British American Tobacco report and accounts on April 15 following its donation of US$598,000 (£381,000) to US political parties with no explanation provided to shareholders.
Other expected targets include pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca over the Us$275,000 (£175,000) it has given to US political parties and publishing group Trinity Mirror over its £30,000 donation to the Labour Party. Their annual meetings will be held on April 30 and May 8, respectively.
Research director Stuart Bell said: “For companies that are seeking authority to make future donations, we look at the size of the donation, the length and the explanation.”
PIRC also pointed out AstraZeneca was seeking authority to donate up to £95,000 within the EU, with no such donations recorded in 2002. BP is also seeking authority to make donations within the EU of up to £100,000.
Companies are required to report all political donations made outside the EU as an aggregate figure.
They must also show individual donations made in the EU in excess of £5000 and seek shareholder authorisation for political donations to be made in the EU in excess of £5000.
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