US - The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) is seeking shareowner support for its proposal to have unopposed candidates to Apple's board be elected by a majority vote.
Apple's current plurality vote rule does not give shareowners a voice to oppose candidates since directors can be elected by a single "for" vote, CalPERS said. The pension fund proposes using a majority vote rule when there is only one candidate for a board seat. The proposal also calls for the resignation of any candidate or incumbent who does not get an affirmative vote from a majority.
Apple is one of the 58 US companies that CalPERS has asked to voluntarily adopt a majority vote rule; so far, 28 companies have agreed.
CalPERS head of corporate governance and senior portfolio manager Anne Simpson said: "We believe a majority voting standard is necessary to provide shareowners better protection for the long-term - accountability is our best protection in the face of uncertainty. Plurality voting is rapidly being replaced with majority voting in director elections. Approximately 80% of the S&P 500 and 60% of the Russell 1000 have adopted some form of majority voting - an indication of the current direction of good corporate governance. This governance best practice is also being utilized by other California incorporated companies - Cisco Systems Inc., PG&E Corp., Edison International and Sempra Energy."
Meanwhile, the $226bn fund has selected Ronald Yank as an ex officio member of the Board of Administration after he was appointed as director of personnel administration by Governor Jerry Brown on 5 January 2011.
Yank, who is a retired labour and employment law attorney, was previously a neutral arbitrator and mediator in the field of labour and employment law and a partner in the law firms Carroll Burdick & McDonough and Neyhart Anderson & Freitas.
The appointment came as the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) announced it is accepting nomination petitions for three positions on its Teachers Retirement Board. The fund is looking for two representatives of pre-kindergarten to12th grade teachers - one who is not an administrator and one who is - and a community college employee. Petitions are to be submitted by 4 March 2011.
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