SWITZERLAND - Eight pension funds, led by institutional investors' association Ethos, have filed shareholder resolutions aimed at improving corporate governance at four Swiss companies.
Ethos is campaigning to allow shareholders to vote on what it sees as excessive remuneration packages at Novartis, Swiss RE, Zurich Financial Services and Holcim.
A second resolution aims at preventing Daniel Vasella from holding both chairman and chief executive positions at Novartis.
The pension funds and Ethos are looking to repeat a successful initiative last year, which saw ABB, Credit Suisse Group, Nestlé and UBS agree to submit their respective remuneration reports or compensation system to an advisory vote at their 2009 annual general meetings.
Last year, pharmaceutical giant Novartis refused to participate, said Ethos.
Susanne Jaeger, managing director at Aargauische Pensionskasse, one the schemes backing the resolution, said it was necessary that pension funds club together in this way and "try to get some results".
Jaeger said it was in the interest of pension scheme members to ensure that the corporate governance of companies in which the pension fund invested were "in good shape".
The other Swiss-based pension funds supporting the resolutions are: Caisse d'assurance du personnel de la Ville de Genève et des Services industriels de Genève (CAP); Genève Caisse de pensions de la République et Canton du Jura; Caisse de prévoyance du personnel des établissements publics médicaux du canton de Genève (CEH); Caisse de prévoyance du personnel enseignant de l'instruction publique et des fonctionnaires de l'administration du canton de Genève (CIA); Luzerner Pensionskasse; Pensionskasse Post; Pensionskasse Stadt Zürich.
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