UK - Former NAPF investment committee chairman Alan Rubenstein launched a blistering attack on the Higgs report and dismissed it as "irrelevant".
During a debate at the NAPF’s annual conference in Glasgow on the potential impact the Higgs report will have on corporate governance, if any, Rubenstein warned that hostility in boardrooms towards the Higgs proposals means many companies will simply choose to ignore it.
Rubenstein pointed to CBI research which shows 82% of FTSE100 chairman believe that Higgs will undermine their ability to run an effective unified board. And he said that the report’s effectiveness has already been undermined by the fact that one of its key proposals – that chairmen should not head nominations committees – has been withdrawn.
He stressed that the only way good corporate governance could be implemented is if investors take action like they did against pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline: “Unless the government and institutions are prepared to force through change, the Higgs proposals will inevitably be watered down until they are irrelevant.
Hermes Focus Asset Management director of institutional relations Michelle Edkins defended the report: “Higgs will help make boards better. All of these subtle changes will produce real improvements. Change will come, it’ll be subtle, gradual and substantial.”
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