Proxy battles are usually an inefficient use of public pension systems’ resources

Link: https://reason.org/commentary/proxy-battles-are-usually-an-inefficient-use-of-public-pension-systems-resources/

Excerpt:

Viewers of Berkshire Hathaway’s 2022 Annual Meeting recently learned that some public pension funds feel strongly about how the corporations they own stock in should be governed. At the Berkshire meeting, a group of three pension systems offered a series of shareholder resolutions, all of which were rejected. While there may be instances where it is reasonable for public pension funds to try to influence corporate decision-making, the pension funds should determine whether proxy fights can appreciably enhance the value of their assets before picking a fight.

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Pension funds and other institutional investors sometimes withhold their support for corporate-endorsed board candidates and submit resolutions. But changing the outcome of corporate elections is typically an uphill battle. According to ProxyPulse, only 2.2% of corporate board candidates failed to obtain majorities during the 2021 proxy season. Sullivan & Cromwell found that only 9% of shareholder proposals submitted were ultimately ratified. 

In comparison, the prospects for shareholder resolutions being adopted appear to be improving. ProxyPulse found that the mean share of votes for shareholder proposals increased from 34% in 2017 to 40% in 2021. The threat of a shareholder proposal passing may also be encouraging boards to go ahead and adopt some recommended policies. 

Between January 1, 2020, and April 30, 2022, pension funds filed 81 forms with the Securities and Exchange Commission in which they disclosed shareholder solicitations, accounting for over 10% of all such disclosures filed during this period. Shareholders who send letters to other shareholders asking them to vote against recommendations of management in their proxy statements disclose the fact that they have done so on SEC Form PX14A6G

Author(s): Marc Joffe

Publication Date: 27 May 2022

Publication Site: Reason

Berkshire Hathaway’s Stock Price Is Too Much for Computers

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/berkshire-hathaways-stock-price-is-too-much-for-computers-11620168548

Excerpt:

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is trading at more than $421,000 per Class A share, and the market is optimistic. That’s a problem.

The price has grown so high, it has nearly hit the maximum number that can be stored in one common way exchange computers handle digits.

…..

Nasdaq’s computers can only count so high because of the compact digital format they use for communicating prices. The biggest number they can handle is $429,496.7295. Nasdaq is rushing to finish an upgrade later this month that would fix the problem.

It isn’t just Nasdaq. Another exchange operator, IEX Group Inc., said in March that it would stop accepting investors’ orders in Class A shares of Berkshire Hathaway “due to an internal price limitation within the trading system.”

Author(s): Alexander Osipovich

Publication Date: 4 May 2021

Publication Site: Wall Street Journal

Warren Buffett Defends Berkshire’s Moves Over Pandemic Year

Link: https://www.wsj.com/articles/warren-buffett-set-to-discuss-pandemic-markets-at-berkshires-annual-meeting-11619887342?reflink=desktopwebshare_twitter

Excerpt:

Warren Buffett defended Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s investments over the past year, while saving his harshest comments for some of the hottest investment vehicles at the company’s annual meeting.

Speaking onstage from Los Angeles, Mr. Buffett, Berkshire’s chairman and chief executive, and his business partner, Charlie Munger, took questions for roughly four hours. The two men said some special-purpose acquisition companies, day traders and private-equity funds that have driven valuations in both private and public companies to record levels were more gamblers than investors.

“I don’t mind the poor fish that gamble,” Mr. Munger said Saturday. “I don’t like the professionals that take the suckers.”

“It’s a moral failing. It’s not just stupid, it’s shameful,” he said of SPACs.

Author(s): Jenna Telesca, Geoffrey Rogow

Publication Date: 1 May 2021

Publication Site: Wall Street Journal

Senators quiz insurers on climate-related underwriting

Link: https://www.businessinsurance.com/article/20210326/NEWS06/912340735/Senators-quiz-insurers-on-climate-related-underwriting

Additional link: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5b7c9307f79392b49031d551/t/605cf32f9d526442eb0bca0c/1616704303928/Senators%27+Letter+-+Chubb.pdf

Excerpt:

Democratic lawmakers have called on U.S. insurers including American International Group Inc., Berkshire Hathaway, Chubb Ltd., Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., MetLife Inc. and Travelers Cos. Inc. to explain how their fossil fuel underwriting policies align with their commitments to sustainability.

In a letter dated March 24, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, and Senators Jeffrey A. Merkley, D-Oregon, Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, and Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, request information on each insurer’s fossil fuel underwriting and investment policies.

“An increasing number of your competitors have stopped underwriting coal and other fossil fuel projects and/or restricted their investments in coal and certain dirty and environmentally damaging oil and gas projects such as tar sands,” the letter said.

Excerpt:

Author(s): Claire Wilkinson

Publication Date: 26 March 2021

Publication Site: Business Insurance