Survey: Ownership Disclosure by Institutional Investors
Institutional investors face increasing pressure from issuers and regulators to be more transparent about their stock ownership and share voting. Sodali has had informal discussions with a number of institutional investors about these issues in the context of annual meetings and cross-border voting. Many of you have indicated your support for greater transparency in the proxy process as a means to facilitate end-to-end vote confirmation – a goal long sought by shareholders. Transparency would also facilitate the creation of an audit trail needed for verification of voting results. There seems to be general agreement among both companies and investors that a voluntary approach would be preferable to regulation, provided that it would not increase costs, require additional time and resources, or conflict with internal policies or contractual commitments.
The questionnaire that follows seeks your views on a proposed voluntary program that would give issuers access to the systemically-generated ownership data that is currently used by agents and intermediaries to distribute disclosure documents, solicit voting instructions and tabulate votes. Many important details, such as the definition of “beneficial ownership” and the use of nominee accounts, cannot be addressed in a survey and would have to be carefully worked out if steps were taken to implement the proposed program.
The goal of this survey is to determine whether the concept of sharing systemically-generated ownership information with issuers makes sense to you.
The survey has room for comment. We would appreciate your candid views on this approach or any other approach that might help satisfy the demand for greater transparency.
Individual responses will be confidential. The deadline for responses is 29th February 2012. A summary of survey results will be published on the Sodali website and sent by email to respondents who provide contact details.