More proxy firm changes
17/02/2015
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Guerdon Associates endeavours to update our subscribers to proxy firm changes on a regular basis (for example, see HERE). This is important not only because we think proxy advisers provide an important and needed service to institutional investors, but also because of the impact a relatively small number of people can have on issuers’ operations and success and the trillions of dollars of superannuation fund investments. We again bring you an update of important and recent changes.

ISS

Vas Kalesnikoff has been appointed as head of ISS research, effective from 3 February. He replaces Ulysses Chiaotto who left ISS last year, and will lead the two surviving proxy analysts from last season.

Prior to ISS, Mr Kalesnikoff was the head of the Australian Shareholders’ Association. He left in 2013. During his time at ASA the ASA proxy guidelines, among other things, strongly advocated for longer term LTIs (4 to 5 years), and for the use of a relative TSR measure.

As head of ISS research Mr Kalesnikoff will have a significant influence on guideline changes for application in the 2015 proxy season.

CGI Glass Lewis

Bridget Murphy, who was a director of research operations in Australia, has been appointed to a position as director of engagement out of Glass Lewis’ New York office. Dan Smith (ex-ISS) is CGI Glass Lewis’ head of Australian research.

As an aside, CGI Glass Lewis will be investing in the rollout of new technology to bring institutional investors and issuers together. The new technology may have very significant implications for capital raising, as it will cut out conflicted middlemen (e.g. investment banks and brokers), operate on a global scale and be open and transparent.

ACSI

The ACSI CEO, Gordon Hagart, has provided notice of resignation on 11 February, effective after Easter (see HERE). Mr Hagart has indicated that he is re-locating to Europe. He is highly regarded by business leaders and the investment community for his thoughtful approach to ESG matters.

His loss comes at a critical juncture for ACSI. A vision to “go global” with pension fund activism in partnership with overseas peers may not be realised with Mr Hagart’s departure. ACSI is yet to complete its strategic review of its role given likely changes to superannuation governance.

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