Influential sovereign wealth fund to publish voting intentions ahead of AGMs

The world's largest sovereign wealth fund sees the move as part of a broader transparency drive.

The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund is to publish how intends to vote at company AGMs, in advance of shareholder meetings, from next year.

In its annual responsible investment report, the $1.2 trillion Norwegian wealth fund, said the move would enhance transparency and provide more information to the market about how it uses its voting rights.

“We are concerned that a lack of information makes the market for voting advice not fully efficient,” the fund’s manager Norges Bank Investment Management noted, in the 124 page report.

In recent years, the fund has already started publishing how it intends to vote ahead of some company meetings. Traditionally, this has been done to draw attention to matters which it believed were “important principles” at specific companies.

Because of its size, the action of the Norwegian fund are significant as they often influence the behaviours of other major institutional investors.

The fund owns around 1.5% of all stocks worldwide, with the portfolio structured around a series of ethical principles. It will not invest in coal investments or in companies that profit from the sale of arms or tobacco. The fund was originally founded from the proceeds of Norway’s oil and gas industry.

“In the course of 20 years, we have become a global leader in responsible investing. Along the way, we have learned and adjusted our course,” said Yngve Slyngstad, chief executive officer of Norges Bank Investment Management (pictured).

“I am proud of what we have achieved over the last two decades, and I am convinced the fund will continue to evolve to safeguard the interests of future generations.”

The fund first published how it intended to vote, ahead of a company meeting, back in 2015, when it pledged to support the special shareholder resolutions on climate reporting at BP and Royal Dutch Shell.

Other themes on which the sovereign wealth fund has been vocal included its reservations on over-boarding – where board members are believed to have too many commitments to fulfil their role sufficiently.

The full report is available here.