UK - Major institutional Marks and Spencer (M&S) shareholders have announced their intention to vote against the company's annual report and accounts at the annual general meeting (AGM) next week.
It is understood the four shareholders, with a combined stake of 2% in M&S, were unhappy with the way the board had appointed Stuart Rose as chairman of the retailer.
Dr Daniel Summerfield, co-head of responsible investment, USS, told Global Pensions: "After careful consideration and several meetings with board directors, USS has decided to vote against M&S's report and accounts at the forthcoming AGM.
"We aim to send a signal to M&S and the market as a whole that we expect companies to manage more effectively their succession planning which appears not to have been in place at Marks & Spencer. An orderly succession process is one of a board's key responsibilities."
Summerfield said the action was a vote of no confidence in the board of directors and USS felt there were "significant governance and operational risks" which had arisen from the failure of the board to manage the succession process.
Pat Wade, corporate governance manager at Co-operative Investments, said: "Investors have felt exposed by the recent actions of M&S - lack of timely succession planning and consultation followed by late concessions smack of a less than effective board.
"There are risks inherent in the concentration of power in one individual, even of Rose's stature. Research has linked poor governance with lower average share price returns and profitability in the long run. Co-operative Investments will therefore not be supporting the adoption of the Report and Accounts as an indication of our concerns for the future."
Poor trading results released yesterday saw M&S shares slump 25% to 240p on the back of a 4.5% drop in like-for-like food sales against last year.
A spokesperson for M&S said the company could not comment on shareholder relations ahead of the AGM next week.
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