Insurers Hit With Range of Shareholder ProposalsShareholders pile on the pressure at annual meetings 07 June 2023
Kenza Bryan of the Financial Times focused on the Insurance sector, and how insurers’ performance on ESG issues is in the spotlight this year — and it’s not just the climate that investors are worried about.
Shareholders are asking US insurance groups Hartford, Travelers, Berkshire Hathaway and Chubb to act faster to evaluate human rights and race issues, and to stop underwriting new oil and gas projects, at annual meetings taking place in May 2023. Trillium Asset Management, which filed both proposals, said the insurer had a smaller proportion of people of colour on its boards than any of the other top 10 insurers in the US. Black people represent just 3 per cent of its senior leadership compared with 18 per cent of administrative support staff, according to 2021 data.
Marine Esperandieu, a director at the consultancy SquareWell Partners, said activist shareholders have not submitted the same ESG-related proposals at insurers in Europe. One reason for this is that race is a “very US-centric topic . . . amplified by high-profile movements like Black Lives Matter”, she said. Another factor may be that some European insurers have voluntarily adopted Say on Climate proposals, and are taking the issue relatively seriously. As one group head of sustainability at an EU-based insurer told me with some anxiety last week, “nobody is with any degree of confidence looking at what the real impacts will be . . . climate science did not predict the number of extreme events that are happening today”.
But this is only the second year that insurance companies in the US have had to reckon with climate-themed resolutions, in an “unprecedented” recognition that insurers were “society’s risk managers”, said Mary Sweeters, a senior strategist at the campaigning group Insure Our Future. In the US S&P 500, three out of the 10 companies targeted by climate-related shareholder proposals for the 2023 AGM season have been insurers.
The full article can be accessed here (Subscription Required).
Activist investors are expected to launch more and bolder campaigns for change among European companies in the year ahead, advisers told Reuters, after a record number in 2023.
AQTION, a subsidiary of SquareWell Partners, published its inaugural study – ‘Stewardship in AQTION’ – which details how the world’s largest 65 asset managers and owners steward their portfolio companies and how they incorporate extra-financial considerations into their investment decision-making processes.
Carl Icahn is preparing for a second board battle at gene-sequencing company Illumina after shareholders elected his candidate, Andrew Teno, to the company’s board and ousted the chairman, John Thompson, in May. Icahn then successfully pushed out former CEO Frances DeSouza in June.