Friday, April 25, 2014

Switzerland's Say on Pay Law Could Put Swiss Pensions in a Bind

Better Corporate Governance, But at What Price?

Author: David Schwartz
On March 3, 2013, Swiss citizens voted overwhelmingly to approve the Minder Initiative, giving shareholders far-reaching influence over the executive compensation and corporate governance matters of publicly traded Swiss companies. Though the first corporate elections under the new Swiss say on pay law will not occur until 2015, institutional investors are beginning to worry potential unintended consequences. For instance, the Minder rules require Swiss shareholders to vote on the aggregate compensation of directors and senior management for each of the equities in their portfolios. This requirement could cause problems for Swiss pension funds and other Swiss institutional investors who wish to engage in securities lending. Typically, when a security is lent out, the right to vote the share passes to the borrower. Will the new law requiring pension funds to vote at the annual general meetings of companies either headquartered or listed in the country effectively prevent them from lending their Swiss securities?
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