Christian Brothers Investment Services and Coalition of Institutional Investors to Vote Against BP’s Accounts and Reports; Major Proxy Voting Agencies to Recommend Same
|On the one-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Christian Brothers Investment Services, Inc. (CBIS), a socially responsible investment firm with $4 billion under management for Catholic institutions, is leading an international coalition of institutional investors in voting against the BP accounts and reports at the company’s upcoming annual meeting.
While identifying risks and challenges, BP’s recently released annual report provides shareholders with an insufficient level of detail to determine how the company’s safety and risk management function has been strengthened; how it is being evaluated, managed, and mitigated; how the board will oversee it; and how progress is to be assessed and measured.
CBIS, Everence Financial, Ethos Foundation and other members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility are part of a coalition across Europe and the U.S. that has announced they will vote against BP’s annual report in response to BP’s failure to address these issues. This news follows the release of recommendations from major proxy voting agencies that voice similar concerns and urge abstentions or votes against BP’s annual accounts and reports, as well as BP’s remuneration proposal and key board positions, particularly members of the Safety Committee.
Glass Lewis, which advises institutional investors that collectively manage more than $17 trillion in assets, has recommended a vote against the report as has PIRC, a leading U.K.-based research and advisory consultancy providing services to institutional investors on corporate governance and corporate social responsibility. According to Glass Lewis: "We believe that shareholders should voice their opposition to these deficiencies by rejecting the Company’s accounts and reports as a form of protest against the Company’s continual failure to correct these issues to satisfaction.”
“While we have been encouraged by BP’s recent willingness to meet with a broad range of shareholders, we do not think the annual report demonstrates what BP is doing to address the issues that have dominated headlines in regards to the oil spill. It does little to provide investors with critical information or confidence that risk has been mitigated and that board oversight has been strengthened,” said Julie Tanner, Assistant Director of Socially Responsible Investing at CBIS. Ms. Tanner will attend the BP Annual Meeting in London on April 14 to share the coalition’s concerns with the company.
CBIS has called on BP to issue a report within six months that specifically addresses how these issues are being managed and evaluated and asked for independent oversight and assessment of implementation of the recommendations made in the Deepwater Horizon Accident Investigation Report.
“BP has experienced a string of troubles in the U.S., of which the oil spill is the latest,” said Mark Regier, Director of Stewardship Investing at Everence Financial. “In light of the devastating human, environmental and financial impacts these events have produced, the lack of substantive and specific information regarding improved safety and risk practices in the annual report is disappointing.”
Bill Seddon, Vice Chair of the UK Church Investors Group (CIG) and CEO of the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church (UK), explains: “Concerns remain about BP’s disclosure, and we will be joining other CIG members in voting against the re-election of the chair of the board’s safety committee.”
Investors have also raised concerns over BP’s lack of information on transitioning to a low-carbon economy, which the annual report states is central to the company’s long-term strategy. The company has not provided detailed information about this transition or explained what initiatives it will undertake to begin moving towards this goal. In contrast, BP’s new oil exploration venture with Russia-based Rosneft seems to contradict this.
“BP must be more forthcoming with investors not only about offshore risk management, but about its plans for reducing its total reliance on oil,” said Mindy S. Lubber, president of Ceres, and director of the $9.5 trillion Investor Network on Climate Risk.
To read an in-depth analysis of the BP Annual Report related to disclosure associated with safety and risk, board oversight, climate change and the Gulf, please click here.
The following investors are among those who will abstain or vote against the BP Annual Report:
• Christian Brothers Investment Services, Inc. (U.S.)
• Bon Secours Health System, Inc. (U.S.)
• Catholic Health East (U.S.)
• Catholic Health Partners (U.S.)
• CHRISTUS Health (U.S.)
• The Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (U.K.)
• Ethos Foundation (Switzerland)
• Everence Financial (U.S.)
• Mercy Investment Services, Inc. (U.S.)
• Sisters of St Francis of Philadelphia (U.S.)
To request more information or to speak with Julie Tanner, please contact Carol Graumann at 973-732-3521 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Christian Brothers Investment Services
Christian Brothers Investment Services, Inc. (CBIS) is a leader in Catholic socially responsible investing (SRI) with approximately $4.0 billion in AUM for more than 1,000 Catholic institutions worldwide, including dioceses, religious institutes, educational institutions and health care organizations. CBIS' combination of premier institutional asset managers, diversified product offerings, and careful risk-control strategies constitutes a unique investment approach for Catholic institutions and their fiduciaries. CBIS strives to integrate faith-based values into the investment process through a disciplined approach to socially responsible investing that includes principled purchasing (stock screens), active ownership strategies (proxy voting, dialogues, and shareholder resolutions) and community investment. Visit CBIS at www.cbisonline.com.
Ceres is a national coalition of major investors, businesses and public interest organizations working with companies to address sustainability challenges such as climate change and water scarcity. Ceres directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk, a North American network of institutional investors focused on addressing the financial risks and investment opportunities posed by climate change. INCR currently has more than 95 members with collective assets totaling about $9.5 trillion.
About Everence and MMA Praxis Mutual Funds
MMA Praxis Mutual Funds, advised by Everence Capital Management, is a faith-based, socially responsible family of mutual funds designed to help people and groups integrate their finances with faith values. Everence helps individuals, organizations and congregations integrate finances with faith through a national team of advisors and representatives. Everence offers banking, insurance and financial services with community benefits and stewardship education. To learn more, visit Everence.com or call (800) 348-7468.
About Church Investors Group (CIG)
The Church Investors Group (CIG) has nearly 40 members with combined assets of c£12 billion. Investing bodies from the Church of England, Church in Wales, Methodist Church, Roman Catholic Church, United Reformed Church and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust raised concerns with the BP Chairman in December. For further information visit www.churchinvestorsgroup.org.uk