NorthStar seeks proxy support from fellow shareholders at annual meetings
Among its many filings for 2014, NorthStar Asset Management, Inc. has filed four shareholder proposals that will be up for a vote this spring. Details on those votes are below:
1) At EMC, our shareholder proposal entitled “Congruency between Corporate Values and Political Contributions” is proposal #5. NorthStar Asset Management believes that disclosure of political contributions is very important, but that with disclosure comes possible risk to shareholder value if a corporation fails to align its political contributions with its internal company values and policies. Please see our position paper on this topic for more details.
Also, we have filed an exempt solicitation with the SEC regarding this proposal, and encourage all shareholders to consider this memo prior to voting the firm’s shares: http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/790070/000121465914002183/c324140px14a6g.htm
We encourage shareholders vote FOR our resolution, EMC proposal #5.
2) A proposal by NorthStar Asset Management (co-filed by Harrington Investments) requesting Aqua America adopt a policy on the human right to water is proposal #5 on the Aqua America proxy this year (ticker: WTR). NorthStar feels that this proposal is vital for the company given its status as a major water utility serving three million residents which is also venturing into the realm of hydraulic fracturing by withdrawing up to 3 million gallons of water PER DAY from the Susquehanna River Basin (a deal which led to the eviction of residents from their home sites).
As stated by a recent publication from the CEO Water Mandate, “expectations that business will respect, and in some cases support or help fulfill, internationally recognized human rights have increased over the past decade.” NorthStar believes that a standalone policy supporting the human right to water would help guarantee the importance of water-related human rights issues, such as: that regardless of management changes over time, ensuring access to safe, clean, sufficient water will remain a high priority in the business decision-making process; that internal policies and structures will be set in place to ensure that appropriate self-evaluation and monitoring occur on a periodic basis; that if inadvertent violations of the human right to water do occur, the company will deal with the issue transparently, with open honesty among the community affected, and will provide remediation however appropriate in a timely manner.
At the following URL, please find an exempt solicitation that NorthStar had previously filed regarding this issue which I believe may offer more insight on the importance of our proposal (but please note that our proposal is #5 this year): http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/78128/000121465912002008/a52120px14a6g.htm
As of this year, seven publically traded corporations have adopted a policy in support of the human right to water as a result of engagement with NorthStar Asset Management, including one water utility. We believe that our request is feasible, not overly proscriptive, and beneficial for the long-term success of the company and shareholder value. We also believe that the company’s existing policies do not meet the requests of the proposal. Not only will this policy be good for the communities in which Aqua America does business, but we believe that it’s in the best interest of the company as well.
Thank you for considering voting FOR proposal #5 at Aqua America.
3) At Western Union, we have requested that the company create a Board Committee on Human Rights. As reported by ICCR, the forceful exploitation of persons-for labor or sexual purposes-is the third largest illegal “business.” In 2012, the International Labor Organization conservatively estimated that 21 million people globally remain enslaved, including in the U.S.A. This includes 14.2 million victims of forced labor and another 4.5 million victims of forced sexual exploitation.
Due to Western Union’s popularity as a reputable financial conduit, we are concerned that the company is unknowingly implicit in human trafficking transactions. WU’s continued operation without a strong human rights policy poses serious risks to company reputation and share value, if it is seen as responsible for or complicit in human rights violations. There can be great risks to companies from human trafficking, including lawsuits, negative publicity and consumer boycotts, business interruptions and strikes—all of which can have a deleterious impact on shareholder value.
We hope that shareholders will consider voting FOR proposal #6 at Western Union.
4) At Facebook, NorthStar requested a policy supporting alignment between company values/policies and company and PAC contributions in our proposal entitled “Congruency between Political Contributions and Company Values.” NorthStar Asset Management believes that disclosure of political contributions is very important (and FB PAC is required by law to disclose), but that with disclosure comes possible risk to shareholder value if a corporation fails to align its political contributions with its internal company values and policies. Please see our position paper on this topic for more details. We are particularly concerned about the issue of political contributions at Facebook because our firm’s web searches did not uncover a public political contributions policy of any sort, however we did find a news story reporting “excessive contributions” to several U.S. Senators (showing, in our opinion, a worrisome lack of oversight with regards to political contributions).
NorthStar has filed an exempt solicitation with the SEC regarding this proposal, and encourage all shareholders to consider this memo prior to voting the firm’s shares: http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/869304/000121465914002682/a47140px10a6g.htm
We hope that shareholders will consider voting FOR proposal #5 at Facebook