Minerva & Manifest in the News

Our research and data are highly trusted by leading media outlets and academic authors. If you are a journalist looking for information or background to global corporate governance or proxy voting issues please contact Sarah Wilson, Chief Executive or Eden Smith, Communications  Manager.

Telephone: + 44 (0)1376 503500 Email: hello@minerva.info

Recent Press Releases

2020

Dalriada Trustees Ltd appoints Minerva Analytics as Implementation Statements service partner

Minerva Analytics has been selected by Dalriada Trustees, one of the UK’s largest independent trustee firms to assess its external asset managers’ ESG, Voting & Stewardship.

As experts in the field of proxy voting, ESG and Climate Change factor analysis and ‘Sustainable Stewardship’, Minerva have been appointed to work with Dalriada Trustees to ensure that the Implementation Statements (IS) for the pension schemes that they serve comply fully with the new pensions legislation.

Minerva | August 6, 2020

Netherland’s Blue Sky Group appoints Minerva Analytics as Proxy Voting Services partner

Minerva Analytics has been appointed by Blue Sky Group (BSG), the independent pensions asset manager and administrator in the Netherlands, to provide Proxy Voting Services. Following a competitive tendering process, Minerva Analytics has been appointed by the €23 billion Blue Sky Group to provide proxy voting services to the Dutch fund manager.

Minerva | July 22, 2020

Ryedale and Minerva Announce Collaboration to Future-Proof Investment Portfolios

Ryedale, a leading portfolio management technology provider, and Minerva, an environmental, social and governance (ESG) data provider, have announced a collaboration designed to harness the growth in demand of sustainability-related data in the fund management investment process amongst asset owners, investment managers and regulators.

“Minerva is delighted to be partnering with Ryedale to support investors’ sustainable investment ambitions. Where stewardship, proxy voting and sustainability were once considered “post-trade” activities, we believe that Ryedale’s innovative approach to holistic portfolio construction is the way forward.” Sarah Wilson, founder and CEO, Minerva.

Ryedale  | May 4, 2020  –  Minerva | May 5, 2020

2019

European FinTech Leader, Solactive, Makes Strategic Investment in Minerva Analytics

Solactive announces the completion of a strategic investment in Minerva to accelerate growth of the electronic voting, stewardship and ESG research services firm.

Following the deal’s completion, Minerva will build-out its research and client service capability through Solactive’s offices in Frankfurt, Hong Kong and Toronto, while leveraging Solactive’s technological capabilities in the fields of natural language processing to broaden its product suite.  Minerva will now be able to offer clients global coverage, 24 hours a day. Solactive will seek to leverage Minerva data in the continued development of its offerings. [more]

Minerva | May 26, 2019

2018

US Proxy Plumbing- Eight Years Later

US Proxy Plumbing: SEC Re-opens Investigations Plans to review proxy plumbing infrastructure “long overdue, but very welcome”. The Securities and Exchange Commission has announced it will re-examine the US proxy voting system.  The US securities regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission, is inviting comments on its proposal and will host a round-table this autumn to..

Minerva | Aug 2, 2018

 

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Recent Coverage

2020

Dalriada Trustees appoints Minerva as implementation statement partner

..Minerva Analytics will support the trustee firm in assessing its external asset managers’ environmental, social, and governance (ESG) voting and stewardship, ahead of the introduction of new investment disclosure requirements in October.

The external support will allow Dalriada to assess whether investment managers are acting in line with the agreed voting and engagement policy, in turn allowing the firm to better adapt or enhance their engagement with investment managers where needed.

PensionAge | August 6, 2020

Dalriada Trustees seeks external help with ESG analysis

Dalriada Trustees – one of the UK’s largest independent trustee firms – has appointed with Minerva Analytics to assess asset managers’ ESG and stewardship records.

As part of this partnership, Minerva will ensure that the Implementation Statement (IS) for pension scheme comply fully with the new pensions legislation on this issue.This support allows Dalriada to assess whether investment managers are acting in line with the agreed voting and engagement policy.

Corporate Adviser | August 6, 2020

Dalriada Trustees has appointed Minerva Analytics to assess its external asset managers’ ESG, voting and stewardship

Minerva will work with Dalriada to confirm the implementation standards for its scheme clients is fully compliant with legislation.

Dalriada said it will then be able to effectively assess whether investment managers are “acting in line” with the agreed voting and engagement policy. It will then mean Dalriada is able to adapt schemes’ policies or enhance its engagement with investment managers on ESG topics.

Professional Pensions | August 6, 2020

PLSA delivers guide to ‘new discipline’ of implementation disclosures

The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) has produced a guide to new investment disclosure duties for UK pension schemes, encouraging them to produce meaningful disclosures rather than just focussing on compliance.

The requirements differ for DC/hybrid and DB-only schemes, although common to both is a requirement to disclose their voting and engagement behaviour. Sarah Wilson, founder and CEO of proxy voting agency Minerva, said this was “a once in a generation shift in legal responsibilities” for trustees.

IPE | July 31, 2020

The G in ESG is vital to pensions and our pensions governance vital to ESG

Sarah Wilson, chief executive of Minerva, the shareholder adviser, said: “At a time when innovation and [research and development] is so important it would seem that financial engineering is taking a higher priority.” – Financial Times

Employers looking for an easing of their deficit funding plans should be reminded of their recent payments of dividends…

Henry Tapper | July 6, 2020

Investment services: Pandemic exposes voting tech flaws

Companies have been using online technologies to conduct their AGMs with varying degrees of success…

Sarah Wilson, CEO of Minerva Analytics, says the move to remote or virtual meetings has yet to change the technologies used by proxy voting companies or their clients. Minerva moved its staff to remote working in early March but has not experienced any difficulty in serving clients, nor has it made significant changes to its technology.

Minerva’s Wilson argues that there are “gaping wounds” in the proxy voting infrastructure that need to be addressed – and technology is not always the answer. New tools or redesigned portals can distract from “fundamental issues with cross-border voting, which are a necessary first principle to resolve”, she says.

IPE | July/August 2020 (Magazine)

Dividend excess puts companies at greater risk of collapse

“More than a quarter of the UK’s biggest listed companies and a third of large US public businesses spent more on dividends and buybacks in 2019 than they generated in net income, a move that has left many groups at greater risk of collapse.” ..Sarah Wilson, chief executive of Minerva, the shareholder adviser, said: “At a time when innovation and [research and development] is so important it would seem that financial engineering is taking a higher priority.”

Financial Times  | July 5, 2020

FTSE bosses back on full pay after pandemic wage cuts

“Shareholders will take a harsh view on companies that are indulging in virtue signalling,” said Sarah Wilson, head of Minerva, the investor advisory group. “Companies need to stand by their principles, and they will be judged particularly when things are tough for their staff and customers.”

Financial Times | June 17, 2020

Boohoo under fire for £150m bonus scheme

Boohoo has reportedly been criticised by investors for the operation and timing of its new bonus scheme, which could mean its executives may receive a £150 million payout.

..The scheme had previously been criticised by investment advisory firm Minerva Analytics and Share Action after being announced last Friday.

Retail Gazette | June 30, 2020

Large Shadow falls on Boohoo bonus plan

“A bonus scheme that could pay out up to £150 million to the bosses of Boohoo faces more scrutiny after a short-seller raised concerns about the way the online fashion retailer designed the plan.”

“The awards have already drawn attention, with Minerva Analytics, an investor advisory service, and Share Action criticising the plan. The hedge fund …”

The Times | June 30, 2020

Virtual AGMs: just the start of overdue changes in the way companies communicate with shareholders

“Technology has made it easier to run virtual AGMs, but barriers remain between the end investor – especially in pooled accounts – and the board. The single meeting could be split between voting and debating companies issues, which would also spread out a congested schedule. Shareholder democracy is about more than technology: ‘eye-balling’ the board will always have its place but in a world of fragmented ownership, meaningful communication with the mass of shareholders has some way to go” Panellists: Jonathan Smalley (Proxymity), Sarah Wilson (Minerva), Guy Jubb (Honorary Professor, University of Edinburgh). Moderator: Jane Fuller (Co-Director, CSFI).

CSFI | June 9, 2020

Rémunérations, les patrons de la City à la diète

“The only reduction in bonuses in ‘cash’ is a source of concern for us, explains Thomas Bolger, senior stewardship analyst with the research firm Minerva Analytics, because it represents only a relatively small part of their remuneration package, the largest part being made up of deferred shares.”

L’AGEFI Hebdo | May 28, 2020

Securities lending and short selling: What’s a responsible long-term investor to do?

David Crum, Minerva’s MD for Asset Steward Solutions, looks at the recent decision by Japan’s £300bn Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) to halt its stock lending programme. He considers why it’s a big deal in corporate governance terms, what it means for UK pension funds, and what – if anything – they should be doing in response.“It’s inevitable that the greater focus being placed on sustainable stewardship by long-term institutional investors has turned its gaze to the securities lending function. Some, including myself, would argue that it’s long overdue.
Whilst it will require a significant effort from asset owners to bring about positive changes to the future shape of stock lending arrangements, the day may well come when transparency of ultimate borrower and borrowing purpose can be delivered, and GPIF will return to the securities lending fold.”

Room 151 | February 6, 2020

CEO pay and director re-elections named top issues for shareholder dissent

Proxy advisers Minerva and the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) say that more that a fifth of FTSE 350 companies were confronted with major shareholder dissent, defined as votes of more than 20% opposition, for at least one AGM proposal. That amounts to 68 companies and 126 resolutions in total.

A vote of 20% opposition is considered “significant”, according to the UK Corporate Governance Code. Minerva has argued that a more appropriate level for “significant” would be 10%.

Board Agenda | February 03, 2020

2019

Battle royale: SEC locks horns with investors over proxy advisers

The SEC vote would cap a lengthy fight that has simmered for several years but recently erupted. It pits proxy advisers and many large asset managers against some of America’s biggest companies..

..Sarah Wilson, chief executive of Minerva, a UK-based proxy adviser, said: “It is now down to asset owners and asset managers who take governance seriously to voice their views.”

Financial Times | December 9, 2019

ETFs for ESG: The ESG governance challenge

An increasing number of institutional investors are interested in investments with an environmental, social and/or governance (ESG) focus.
..To tackle the issue, Solactive CEO Steffen Scheuble bought an equity stake in European-based research and proxy firm Minerva this year. Scheuble says Minerva collects data from company disclosures and shareholder meetings, and he can use the data to build enhanced indices and products, including ESG.

IPE: ETFs Guide 2019 | October 11, 2019

TPR moves on climate change

Keeping the world fit for its inhabitants is not something for other people to do, it is our job – all of our jobs. So it is entirely proper for the Pensions Regulator to make the sustainability of our planet’s eco-system part of their regulatory function.

I was sceptical about tPR’s commitment to this until I heard this excellent presentation at Minerva Manifest’s excellent workshop on ESG. The workshop came days before an important report on the changing attitudes of investment managers to Environmental Social and Governance issues.

Henry Tapper Blog | October 1, 2019

All-employee schemes need radical overhaul

…The new median contribution rate at companies that have reduced rates for incumbent executives is 15 percent, according to PwC’s analysis — down from 25 percent, but still way ahead of the 10 percent median rate for most employees. “This is particularly egregious since defined benefit schemes went out,” said Sarah Wilson, ceo of consultancy Minerva Analytics.

Esop Centre Newspad | Vol 35 No 7 August 2019

The LGC Investment Podcast

This episode was recorded at the LGC Investment and Pensions Summit, which was held at Celtic Manor in South Wales on 5 and 6 September 2019. Dawn Turner, chief executive of Brunel Pension Partnership, and Jeff Houston, secretary to the LGPS Board, discuss key highlights from the event with LGC features editor Martin George.

Topics include collaboration across pools and sustainable investing. The podcast also hears from Natalie Fee, founder of City to Sea, as she sets the scene on climate change for delegates at the summit.

This podcast is bought to you by Minerva Analytics, the new name for Manifest. Minerva is Europe’s independent provider of global proxy voting, corporate governance & ESG-factor research..

LGG | September 25, 2019

SEC highlights proxy voting rules, guidance amid ESG debate

In a split vote the US regulator has approved guidance about asset managers’ responsibilities when using proxy advisory firms and the rules applicable to them..

Sarah Wilson, chief executive at Minerva Analytics, a UK proxy advisory firm, said the SEC’s guidance “brings asset owners and asset managers back into the equation”. She added: “The whole lobby that was aimed at the SEC from the Chamber of Commerce… you would have imagined that fund managers didn’t exist, by the way that they talked. It was all about shooting the messenger.”

Wilson said the SEC’s guidance was a sign of regulatory harmonisation, in that it reflected the requirements laid out in the revised EU Shareholder Rights Directive (SRD II). “It’s not laid out the same way, but it captures the same issues about fiduciary responsibility, transparency, accuracy,” she said.

IPE | August 23, 2019

Proxy firms group renew self-regulated code of conduct with investor input

A reviewed version of the so-called Best Practice Principles (BPP) for Shareholder Voting Research Providers has been published after a two-year consultation period by the group of five firms that sponsor them link.

..the creation of the first principles in 2014 by the current five signatory members: ISS, Glass Lewis, Minerva (formerly Manifest), PIRC and Proxinvest.

Responsible Investor | July 22, 2019

Proxy advisers agree to greater independent scrutiny  | Proxy advisers agree to new standards

Major firms sign up to revised principles and oversight committee
Leading proxy advisers have agreed to a series of updated principles and oversight from a new committee.

Glass Lewis CEO KT Rabin tells Corporate Secretary sister publication IR Magazine: ‘As a founding signatory to the Best Practice Principles [BPP] for Shareholder Voting Research and Analysis Group [BPP Group], launched in 2014, Glass Lewis is pleased to confirm that the revised BPP was updated on Monday, July 22.’

The BPP Group was set up to promote a better understanding of proxy advisers. Its committee comprises representatives from Glass Lewis, ISS, Minerva Analytics, PIRC and Proxinvest.

IR Magazine | Corporate Secretary | July 24, 2019

Solactive expands with strategic investment

Index provider Solactive has made a strategic investment in UK headquartered Minerva, designed to accelerate the growth of the electronic voting, stewardship, and ESG research services firm. Coincidentally, it also has a new Chief of Staff, Roger-Marc Noirot (pictured), who joined Solactive in March.

ETF Express | May 29, 2019

Frankfurt-based index provider Solactive backs UK proxy voting firm

According to Minerva, Solactive made the investment “to support the development of a Europe-based global shareholder voting and stewardship service”.

“At this time of increased regulatory and asset owner scrutiny on shareholder voting and stewardship, we are confident that Solactive will be a strong and trusted partner and we are looking forward to the next stage in Minerva’s development,” it added.

IPE | May 28, 2019

Solactive invests in Minerva Analytics

The deal significantly amplifies Minerva’s global presence.

Index provider Solactive has announced the completion of a strategic investment in European governance and proxy voting firm Minerva Analytics.

ESG Clarity | May 28, 2019

Solactive: Strategic investment in Minerva Analytics

Solactive announces the completion of a strategic investment in Minerva to accelerate the growth of the electronic voting, stewardship, and ESG research services firm.

Minerva CEO Sarah Wilson spent over 20 years in the business of proxy research, during which she has found that clients benefit from bespoke..

ETF Word | May 27, 2019

Index provider Solactive buys stake in UK proxy advisor
The moves adds to a recent flurry of dealmaking among environmental, social and governance specialists

Financial Times | May 26, 2019

MPs tear into fund groups over conflict of interest on pay

Politicians warn high pay in asset management undermines efforts to hold companies to account

Sarah Wilson, chief executive of Minerva Analytics, a consultancy that advises shareholders, welcomed the committee’s findings. She said it would increase scrutiny on shareholders who backed lavish pay deals but warned it would be difficult to implement the recommendation that boards should set an absolute cap on total pay.

“That’s very challenging because it would seem to be a wages policy, which is not left open to the market.”

Financial Times | March 28, 2019

MPs urge companies to cap ‘eye-watering’ executive pay

Soaring boardroom salaries and lavish pensions a symbol of ‘corporate greed’

Sarah Wilson, chief executive of Minerva Analytics, a consultancy that advises shareholders, said: “CEO pay does not reflect most people’s reality and it’s creating stress. They’ve touched on a very important and sensitive issue for British society.”
But she said it would be difficult to implement the recommendation that boards should set an absolute cap on total pay.

Financial Times | March 26, 2019

Pearson chief executive’s £1.5m bonus pushes up pay 70%

John Fallon qualifies for award for first time after 5 profits warning from 2012-17

Sarah Wilson, chief executive of governance consultancy Minerva Analytics, said remuneration at Pearson “does not meet good practice”. “In terms of aligning executives and ordinary employee it is a very generous pension for someone who is already very generously rewarded” she said.
She added that it did not meet test “shareholders look for in terms of simplicity”

Financial Times | March 25, 2019

Tears in the boardroom at Mahmud Kamani’s Boohoo

Founder Mahmud Kamani isn’t going to let fellow directors stand in his way

“Governance requirements for an AIM company are not as stringent as on the main market, irrespective of the company’s size,” said Sarah Wilson, chief executive of the corporate governance adviser Minerva Analytics. “For a number of investors the governance at Boohoo will raise red flags. The lack of an outside, independent chairman for some shareholders is very unwelcome.”

Financial Times | March 10, 2019

Fund managers to turn up pressure on director remuneration

Commenting on the IA’s move, chief executive of Minerva Sarah Wilson said the company was pleased to note the body’s guidelines had been strengthened.

Wilson said: “Pensions disparity between executives and employees is a long-standing problem. Our remuneration research from the Greenbury era [a 1995 remuneration report] identified potential for abuse and our clients have long had research and voting guidelines aimed at equalising pensions for workers and boards.”

She added that the Pensions & Lifetime Savings Association and the Trades Union Congress introduced similar policy recommendations in 2010.

IPE | February 21, 2019

Almost 40 per cent of UK chairmen face pressure to unseat them

Among the FTSE 350, there are 110 companies that are already non-compliant with the tenure provision, and 137 have chairs who have served on the board for more than eight years, according to Minerva Analytics, a governance consultancy formerly known as Manifest.

Financial Times | February 18, 2019

Investors should fire directors who fail to act on climate change

A surge of shareholder resolutions at AGMs shows they are not happy
…In the past five years, only one UK or US energy company — Nabors Industries — has seen directors voted off the board, according to Minerva Analytics. Normally, directors in this sector receive more than 95 per cent support.

… The Minerva data show that in the five years to 2018, only one auditor in the UK’s energy sector had higher than a 5 per cent vote against it: EY at Shell in 2016. In the US, no auditors had more than a 5 per cent vote against them.

Financial Times | January 29, 2019

2018

Revealed: most ESG-friendly asset managers

Sarah Wilson, CEO of Minerva Analytics, the independent stewardship support service, says: “There is now a race in fund managers committing to show their credentials on sustainability.”

Ms Wilson says: “[Asset managers] have often struggled with ESG as a concept when maximising shareholder returns has traditionally been more important. But now firms are thinking about holistic returns.”

Ignites Europe | November 26, 2018

Voting advice on CEO pay is usually ignored by big asset managers

Sarah Wilson, chief executive of Minerva, a UK proxy adviser, said the evidence from the roundtable discredited suggestions that the proxy advice industry needed to be reformed.

Financial Times | November 18, 2018

Big two proxy advisers face glare of SEC scrutiny 

Glass Lewis and ISS in the spotlight amid accusations they wield too much influence

Sarah Wilson, chief executive of Minerva, a UK-based proxy adviser, says improvements are needed in the shareholder voting process but she argues that this reform should centre on the plumbing — or how shareholders can use their votes — rather than the advice they receive. She says companies lobbying against proxy advisers fear greater shareholder attention. “They expect every vote to be in favour of management and don’t want any scrutiny at all. [The current pushback against proxy advice] is an attack on ideas,” she says.

Financial Times | November 12, 2018

Global Strategies: Shouldering responsibility

“You’re now seeing a new generation of investment analysts who are actually saying these are not extra financial factors, they are factors which do drive financial issues, but you might not see them in the immediate next two quarters,” says Sarah Wilson, chief executive of voting services group Minerva Analytics.

Funds Europe  | October 3, 2018

Top CEO salary rises far outstripping their employees

Employee morale could be damaged by the ever-growing paychecks of top bosses, as bosses’ salaries continue to grow at a much faster rate than their employees’ pay. 2017 data from stewardship service Minerva Analytics revealed that the CEOs of the UK’s biggest listed companies were on average awarded an 11% pay increase. However, their workers received a…

HR Grapevine | September 24, 2018

Premier Foods chief narrowly survives AGM ouster attempt

“UK boards can normally expect levels of support in the high 90s. A negative vote of over 40 per cent reveals a disturbing gulf in expectations”, Sarah Wilson, Minerva Analytics.

In the past decade, only three other chief executives have had more than 40 per cent of votes cast against their re-election, according to Minerva Analytics, the voting services group.

Financial Times | June 19, 2018

Major shareholder advisers call for crackdown on executive bonuses

Institutional Shareholder Services, the largest and most influential of the firms, its US counterpart Glass Lewis, and UK agency Minerva Analytics — previously known as Manifest — offered submissions to a UK Parliament’s Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee that is looking into the issue. Continue reading >>

Financial Times | June 6, 2018

Minerva gives evidence to UK parliament on corporate governanceMore >>

Parliamentlive | June 6, 2018

UK company chiefs awarded bumper pay rises in 2017

“The Minerva research found that the median figure for CEO pay rises in 2017 stood at 6 per cent during 2017.”

Financial Times | June 1, 2018

2017

“The combination of the binding vote and focus on engagement is having a positive effect,” said Sarah Wilson, chief executive of Minerva. “Contrary to initial concerns about damaging returns, the binding vote has created a much stronger connection between boards and shareholders, which can only be good.”“Businesses that pay excessive salaries to senior executives represent the “unacceptable face of capitalism”, Prime Minister Theresa May has said. Sarah Wilson is chief executive of the shareholder group Manifest and Andrew Ninian is the head of Corporate Governance at the Investment Association.” (podcast: 1:13:12/ 3:02:59)

BBC Radio 4 | August 28, 2017

FTSE companies avoid shareholder wrath on pay at AGMs

Concessions on executive remuneration result in fewer large protest votes than a year ago. Ahead of this year’s shareholder meeting season, investors predicted … Shareholders pay revolts in the UK, FTSE 350 companies 2013-17, percent of investor who dissented includes those who voted against and abstentions by shareholders (Source: Manifest’s data and comment) …

Financial Times | May 12, 2017

Boardroom excess? British companies stick with bonus plans despite criticism

Analysis by Reuters of company annual reports and data from governance advisory firm Manifest shows 59 members of the FTSE 100. FTSE blue-chip stock index recently updated their remuneration policy or plan to soon, of which 56 currently use or plan to continue using LTIPs.

Reuters | April 13, 2017

2016

Sky Shareholders Protest James Murdoch’s Return as Chairman

“Excluding votes representing Murdoch interests, about 51 percent were against James Murdoch’s re-election, according to Manifest, a London-based proxy voting agency that has raised governance concerns about his role.”

Bloomberg | October 13, 2016

Analysis: Will Sports Direct’s shake-up soothe disgruntled investors?

A big question mark remains over Sports Direct’s corporate governance. As its chief executive, can Mike Ashley really convince investors the company will be run in a different way? One shareholder advisory group has already expressed its concern. “Shareholders really want to see that Mike is willing and able to take independent advice,” says Manifest founder and chief executive, Sarah Wilson.

Retail Week | September 23, 2016

Legal & General warns firms over bonuses and pay

Sarah Wilson, chief executive of shareholder advisory body Manifest, said LGIM was addressing how much the chief executive is paid relative to the ……..

The Guardian | September 16, 2016

Theresa May’s executive pay plans meet further scepticism
Doubts over effectiveness of boosting investor powers on tackling high pay awards

Financial Times | October 9, 2016

Last Updated: 6 August 2020
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