Neuberger Berman Announces the Third Year of "NB Votes" Preannounced Proxy Vote Intentions and Rationales
2022 Engagement Efforts Highlight New Voting Initiatives on Climate and Board Diversity
New York, NY, April 26, 2022 – Neuberger Berman, a private, independent, employee-owned investment manager, announced the third year of its advance proxy voting disclosure initiative, NB Votes, whereby the firm will regularly disclose its voting intention and rationale on select issues. The firm plans to disclose in advance of stockholder meetings an increasing number of votes than last year on a range of key issues across its nine key governance and engagement principles.
This year Neuberger Berman, the first major asset management firm to provide broad advance proxy vote disclosure, beginning the effort in 2020, expects to disclose advanced voting intentions for more than 60 shareholder meetings. NB Votes aims to address key themes at the forefront of many investors’ minds this proxy season, including climate, diversity, capital allocation, pay equity, and political contributions.
The recent updates made to the firm’s proxy voting guidelines underscore the importance of climate risk management and robust equity, inclusion, and diversity practices. Neuberger Berman will take proactive action against companies the firm views as a climate laggard, while on the diversity front, Neuberger Berman is announcing its expectation for 30% gender diversity on boards.
For the companies in which we invest on behalf of our clients, Neuberger Berman aims to enhance shareholder returns, fulfill fiduciary responsibilities to clients, and promote transparency and accountability. The NB Votes initiative involves the firm’s proxy voting committee, investment teams, research analysts and members of the ESG Investing Team. NB Votes improves transparency of the firm’s proxy voting responsibilities, which is of importance to clients, companies, regulators, and other market participants. The advance vote disclosures highlight an integral component of the firm’s active portfolio management and ongoing engagement with companies.
George Walker, CEO of Neuberger Berman, said: “We seek to be engaged stewards on behalf of our clients. Last year we held over 4,600 meetings with corporate management teams across equities and credit. We dig in. We engage management teams and often Board members. We try to add value. And, on important matters, we stand up and pre-announce our voting intentions and rationale. Our approach to engagement, particularly around advanced voting disclosure, remains unique amongst peers. We have seen real impact as a result of this comprehensive approach – improving the companies in which we invest. We encourage other investors to join us and make their voices heard in areas where they have particular expertise.”
Neuberger Berman understands that no other large investment manager (AUM +$100 billion) discloses a meaningful number of proxy vote intentions in advance of shareholder meetings. Most firms only disclose votes long after the shareholder meeting, if at all, with few providing accompanying rationales.
“Open communication is critical to driving change,” said Caitlin McSherry, Director of Stewardship at Neuberger Berman. “We continue to work with management teams through a wide range of communication efforts, and our goal is to increase our transparency to clients, prospects and the industry as a whole by sharing our intentions and rationales through our NB Votes website.”
Jonathan Bailey, Head of ESG Investing said: “We are pleased that several companies that we included in NB Votes over the last two years have made incremental improvements on key issues that will benefit investors. Our engagement with companies is a collaborative effort across our entire investment organization which we strongly believe will continue to yield positive outcomes for our clients.”
The rationale for each specific NB Votes item is located on the firm’s dedicated NB Votes website. New votes and their rationales will be added throughout the proxy season.
NB Votes disclosures for meetings include:
Last year, at Berkshire Hathaway Inc., we withheld support from members of the Governance, Compensation and Nominating Committee because the chair of the board was not independent, and a lead independent director had not been appointed. In September 2021, the independent directors named Susan L. Decker as lead independent director. As a result, we intend to support the reelection of Ms. Decker. We continue to believe the company should improve its disclosures on climate-related risks and intend to vote for the shareholder proposal regarding the reporting of climate-related risks and opportunities. We also intend to vote against management and support the shareholder proposal regarding diversity and inclusion reporting.
The Boeing Company: We intend to vote for a shareholder proposal encouraging further progress against key climate indicators. While the company has made several improvements pertaining to climate risk practices and disclosures in recent years, we believe further enhancements can be made and are pleased that the board has chosen to recommend shareholders vote for this proposal.
Daiwa Industries Ltd.: In March, we opposed three management proposals including votes against top management for not responding to our concerns pertaining to its opaque capital management as well as an external director who did not possess the necessary skillsets to represent minority shareholder interests. We also voted against the retirement allowance for lack of disclosure.
Costco Wholesale Corporation: We voted in opposition to the board’s recommendations on two proposals pertaining to ESG oversight and emissions reduction targets. We supported a shareholder proposal that called on the company to adopt science-based greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. Additionally, we voted against the reappointment of the chair of the nominating and governance committee since the board does not maintain explicit oversight of ESG issues.
For full details on Neuberger Berman ESG efforts please see our website.
About Neuberger Berman
Neuberger Berman, founded in 1939, is a private, independent, employee-owned investment manager. The firm manages a range of strategies—including equity, fixed income, quantitative and multi-asset class, private equity, real estate and hedge funds—on behalf of institutions, advisors and individual investors globally. With offices in 25 countries, Neuberger Berman’s diverse team has over 2,500 professionals. For eight consecutive years, the company has been named first or second in Pensions & Investments Best Places to Work in Money Management survey (among those with 1,000 employees or more). In 2020, the PRI named Neuberger Berman a Leader, a designation awarded to fewer than 1% of investment firms for excellence in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices. The PRI also awarded Neuberger Berman an A+ in every eligible category for our approach to ESG integration across asset classes. The firm manages $447 billion in client assets as of March 31, 2022. For more information, please visit our website at www.nb.com.
(Americas) Alex Samuelson, 212.476.5392, Alexander.Samuelson@NB.com