The manager of the Norwegian oil fund has highlighted a series of stumbling blocks that currently hinder shareholder voting in the European Union, and given the European Commission (EC) a list of five improvements it would like to see materialise in the future Capital Markets Union (CMU).Responding to the EC’s consultation on the final report of the High-Level Forum (HLF) on capital markets union, Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) said: “Voting is one of the most important tools for investors to manage their responsibilities and exercise their rights as owners.“Yet, investors sometimes encounter obstacles when exercising their voting rights,” the manager of the NOK10.4tn (€974bn) Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) wrote in a letter to the Commission.The letter’s signatories Carine Smith Ihenacho, NBIM’s chief corporate governance officer and Séverine Neervoort, senior analyst, corporate governance at the Norwegian central bank division, said they were only addressing the chapter of the report in which the HLF made recommendations on shareholder identification, exercise of voting rights and corporate actions. The pair welcomed the forum’s recommendation to revise the Shareholder Rights Directive, in order to address issues of manual processes, lack of standardisation and fragmentation in the EU single market, and suggested five measures:Receiving confirmation from issuers of resolutions having been voted in line with shareholders’ instructions should be automatic, rather than the current proposal that owners should simply be given the right to obtain such confirmation;A common approach regarding the deadline to cast votes should be introduced;Votes should be counted systematically, with vote tallies being published, and there should be transparency on voting outcome per agenda item;There should be a straightforward administrative process for power of attorney in order to facilitate cross-border voting, and the electronic tabulation of votes should always be permitted;Common definitions in EU legislation for concepts like ‘record date’ or ‘shareholder’ would help avoid legislative fragmentation and shed light on end investors rather than intermediaries.Though Norway is a member of the peripheral European Free Trade Association and not an EU member, NBIM said it had €130bn invested in equities in the union and was an active owner aiming “to promote long-term value creation in the companies in which it invests”.In May, NBIM published a paper on the voting process, expressing what it saw as efficient practice and how key stakeholders could help improve things.More recently, the Oslo-based manager has spoken out on shareholder voting on sustainability proposals, saying some green motions now being put forward concentrated on tangential issues or tried to micro-manage company boards.To read the digital edition of IPE’s latest magazine click here.
Press Association However, that form brings with it speculation, especially given Austin only has 18 months remaining on his current deal at Loftus Road – a situation striker partner Zamora has urged the powers that be to sort quickly. “He has 12 goals now and that’s brilliant,” the 33-year-old said. “Hopefully, he can continue that and as a club we need to tie him down and get him a new deal. “I’m pleased for him, he’s doing well and he works hard. Without a shadow of a doubt other clubs will be looking at him. “If they’re not, then they’re crazy because he can get you that goal.” Austin has made light work of the transition to top-flight football, just as he did as he did when moving from non-league to the Football League. Zamora followed a similar path and never had any doubts his team-mate could cut it in the Premier League. “He done well for us last year and, even though it’s a step up, we know what he can do,” he said. QPR need to tie forward Charlie Austin down to a new deal as team-mate Bobby Zamora believes other clubs would be “crazy” not to try and prise him away. “He wasn’t scoring wonder goals, going past four or five people – they are strikers’ goals, finishers’ goals. “If you’ve got that ability, you can do it at any level. “I’m lucky enough to have taken a similar route through the third and second division, as it was back then. “It’s brilliant and I’m pleased for him. It’s a great route and a great story.” Neil Warnock has become the Premier League’s first managerial casualty of the season – a decision which surprised Keith Millen and means he is once again having to fill in as Crystal Palace’s caretaker manager. Just four months after beginning a second spell at the Selhurst Park helm, the 66-year-old was relieved of his duties having failed to carry on the stellar work done by predecessor Tony Pulis. Palace fans turned on Warnock during the embarrassing 3-1 home defeat to Southampton on Boxing Day and the south London club’s board wielded the axe the following morning. It has seen Millen installed as caretaker for the third time in little more than a year, meaning he has the unenviable task of leading out the embattled Eagles against QPR on Sunday. “It is not a nice position to be in again, I must admit,” Millen said. “It was a surprise. “We have all been disappointed by yesterday’s result but the first-half performance was decent. “We’re just not taking our chances at the moment, so we’ve come into work this morning and I get the phone call from the chairman. “It has been a shock for us all, but we have got to try and be professional and try and concentrate on a massive game.” Palace co-chairman Steve Parish felt he had no choice but to take the “unfortunate decision” to sack Warnock and informed him of that decision on Saturday morning. Parish says Palace have not got anyone lined-up to come in and, while they “want it sorted out as soon as possible”, confirmed Millen is likely to be in charge for the trip to the New Year’s Day clash at Aston Villa in addition to the QPR match. “Neil came in this morning and we had a quick chat,” Millen said. “He cleared his desk and his stuff. “It is always a sad time and it is very difficult for all of us, the staff, because he kept us here and we were part of his backroom staff. “We’re all disappointed but we have got to move on very quickly with this big game.” Millen will need to ignore the background noise if he is succeed at Loftus Road, with speculation already mounting over Warnock’s permanent successor. That is not something he is even contemplating right now, though, saying they have “got to let the dust settle a little bit” and fully focus on getting a result against QPR. “I know this group of players and know what they’re good at,” Millen told Sky Sports News. “We’ve got to try and remind them of that. We’ve got to go to QPR tomorrow and be up for the fight because that is what it is going to be. “I am sure QPR will be ready for us and we’ve got to make sure our lot are ready.” Five years on from playing non-league football for Poole Town, the 25-year-old is the top-scoring Englishman in the Premier League. Only Sergio Aguero and Diego Costa have managed more than his 12-goal haul and talk of England recognition grows by the week.