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Goldman Sachs Hears from Shareholders in Major Proxy Resolution Votes,
Including Derivatives Trading and Political Contributions
NEW YORK CITY, NY///May 7, 2010///After the dust finally settled from this morning’s Goldman Sachs annual meeting in New York City, one thing was clear: shareholders had voted solidly in support of key shareholder resolutions filed by Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR).
In a strong call for an immediate shift in the way that the embattled Goldman Sachs is conducting business on Wall Street, 33 percent of shareholders supported a resolution calling for more disclosure on collateral in derivatives trading. This widely followed resolution had earlier received a 30 percent vote at Citigroup and a 39 percent support level from Bank of America shareholders.
The other Goldman Sachs resolutions filed by ICCR members achieved strong vote percentages, including:
- 31 percent for political contributions disclosure;
- 19 percent for separation of CEO and chair; and
- 5.5 percent for pay disparity disclosure.
Laura Berry, executive director, ICCR said: “The activities that propelled today’s shareholder meeting brought together the collective effort of active and engaged owners. With their long-standing commitment to transparency, appropriate incentive structures and vigilance regarding political influence, ICCR members raised issues that clearly resonated with the company’s owners. We look forward to a clear and affirmative response from Goldman Sachs.”
Cathy Rowan, consultant, Maryknoll Sisters said: “ICCR members have been concerned about the opacity and complexity of the over-the-counter derivatives markets for a long time. The resolution on disclosing collateral policy gave shareholders a chance to use their voice and vote to challenge Goldman Sachs to increase transparency and disclosure. I am hopeful that shareholders will continue to feel empowered to seek greater corporate accountability.”
Adam Kanzer, managing director & general counsel at Domini Social Investments, the sponsor of a proposal seeking greater accountability for Goldman's political payments, said: "Goldman Sachs is at the center of a very public debate about financial regulatory reform and the role of complex derivatives in the financial crisis. It does not seem possible for this institution to restore its reputation while also engaging in undisclosed political activity. The bank recognized this risk last year when it responded to our proposal by prohibiting direct political payments from the corporate treasury. Shareholders and Goldman's board need a better system of accountability."
Laura Shaffer, director of shareholder activities, Nathan Cummings Foundation and Sr. Judy Byron, representative of the Benedictine Sisters of Mt. Angel, said: “It is our hope that today's vote marks a turning point – the day that Goldman Sachs listened to its shareholders and committed itself to be a leader in transforming Wall Street's compensation practices for the benefit of the company, its shareholders and the American economy.”
The five key resolutions and their filers are:
1) Collateral in derivatives trading – Cathy Rowan for Maryknoll Sisters.
2) Pay disparity – Laura Shaffer for Nathan Cummings Foundation and Sr Judy Byron for Benedictine Sisters of Mt. Angel – A resolution requesting a review of internal pay disparity and the appropriateness of executive compensation levels;
3) Separation of CEO and chair – A resolution requesting that the Chair of the Board of Directors be an independent member of the board. Julie Tanner for Christian Brothers Investment Services and The Needmor Fund;
4) Political contributions – A resolution requesting that management provide a semi-annual report disclosing monetary and non-monetary political contributions and expenditures. Adam Kanzer for Domini Social Investments.
5) Executive compensation (Withdrawn) – A resolution seeking the establishment of an independent panel to assist the board compensation committee in reviewing compensation and performance policies. Jennifer Coulson for Northwest and Ethical Funds and Mark Regier for MMA Praxis Mutual Funds.
For nearly 40 years the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) has been a leader of the corporate social responsibility movement. ICCR's membership is an association of 300 faith-based institutional investors, including national denominations, religious communities, pension funds, foundations, hospital corporations, economic development funds, asset management companies, colleges, and unions. Each year ICCR-member religious institutional investors sponsor over 200 shareholder resolutions on major social and environmental issues.
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