Unstructured Finance

Investors to gang up on company boards

Britain’s largest investors are gearing up to take on troublesome boards. A new body will look at addressing investor concerns over some of the most contentious issues of the day, mainly pay and strategy. You can read the story here

This kind of collective action by UK’s biggest investors is exactly the kind of thing needed to make companies to sit up and take notice of  their views. After being ravaged by the credit crisis, companies have been forced to go, cap-in-hand, to investors for fresh capital injections, forcing them to at least listen to what their biggest shareholders are saying.

This is in stark contrast to the stance taken by some companies in the run up to the crisis. Last year, the IMA revealed that 21 fund firms had a total of 59 separate meetings with RBS over the roles of the chairman and CEO. And even a push from one of its its largest investor Legal & General Investment Management had little effect. The duo did not step down until after the government was forced to bail out the bank in October 2008.

The new body will not replace either the ABI’s Investment Committee or the Institutional Shareholders Committee which has so far led the debate on governance. The hope, presumably, is that investors will be able to leverage their new-found influence to effect change at company boards in a much more efficient and responsible manner.

Odd woman in

simone-bagel-trahSimone Bagel-Trah bucks the trend.  The number of women on German company top-level board posts — low to begin with in Europe’s largest economy – is dropping.  In steps Bagel-Trah. The slender blonde will become the first supervisory board chairwoman at a German blue chip. On Tuesday, she takes over the helm at glue-to-detergents maker Henkel .

 The doctor of microbiology will also head the shareholders’
committee which represents the Henkel family members who hold
about 52 percent in the creator of Persil detergent.

But the 40 year old great-great-granddaughter of the Henkel
founder is not the pioneer many would like to see in her.

Check Out Line: Kramer leaves Abercrombie for Kellwood

abercrobie.jpgCheck out Abercrombie losing its CFO to Kellwood.
Michael Kramer is leaving Abercrombie & Fitch as of Aug. 18 to take the top job at clothing manufacturer Kellwood Co and Wall Street doesn’t like it.
“With Mike Kramer’s departure, we are less certain that margins stay at historical levels and growth initiatives are pursued carefully, Thomas Weisel partners analyst Liz Dunn said.
Abercrombie already has problems with tepid sales as customers cut spending to cope with rising gasoline and and food costs.
Sluggish sales require “prudent management of expenses and capital spending, Credit Suisse analyst Paul Lejuez said. “Without a CFO, there is no one to lead the charge.”
Also in the basket:
Fortune Brands profit tops lowered Wall St expectations.
Consumer confidence rebounds from 28-year low
Foreclosures double from last year 
(Photo: Reuters)