Pan-African lender Ecobank is currently under investigation following allegations by suspended executive Laurence do Rego – whose role entails risk management and finance – claiming that the bank’s board was not operating in the interests of shareholders.
Two short and choppy updates from Carl Icahn’s Twitter account revealed that his investment firm currently boasts a “large position” in Apple, and that the billionaire investor was in talks with CEO Tim Cook over the logistics of a larger buyback scheme for investors.
The mishap resulted in the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) levying a fine against Walgreens for $80m. Shareholders believe that the board of directors knowingly breached drug regulations by encouraging the sale of prescription painkillers, which in turn forced the DEA to take out an investigation into Walgreens and the subsequent fine.
In February, Michael Dell announced plans to re-privatise the world’s third-largest computer manufacturer in a $24.4bn buyout deal. Six months on, shareholders continue to fight Dell every step of the way.
Barclay’s bank is set to issue a total of £5.8bn in new shares in order to cover a massive capital shortfall. A further £2bn in bonds will also be issued. These are designed to revert into shares or be completely wiped out if the bank faces trouble. The new shares and bonds are designed to cover a shortfall in the new leverage ratio requirement imposed by the Prudential Regulatory Authority (PRA).
M&G argues that responsible corporate governance has started to slip at Gulf Keystone, and that the decisions being made by directors is growing increasingly unrepresentative of the interests of company shareholders.
Companies in Canada are seeing a steady rise in the influence of shareholders that want to hold management to account, continuing the global trend of activist stakeholders. While most challenges have come from outside of Canada, local shareholders are also starting to exert more influence on how businesses operate.
The Quoted Companies Alliance (QCA) has, on May 8, published an extensively revised version of the Corporate Governance Code for Small and Mid-sized Quoted Companies. The guidance is principally intended for those listed on the Stock Exchange, the Alternative Investment Market (AIM), or else the ICAP Securities and Derivatives Exchange.
The group, formed by the Trade Unions Congress, Unison and Unite, have drawn up the new guidelines to ensure that ordinary employees and shareholders are represented in the boardroom in order to tackle issues such as excessive executive pay.
Standard’s 2012 annual report, released at the end of April, highlighted how the bank’s decision to move away from for being a multinational emerging-market banking group to focus on African markets is working in their favour. South Africa’s largest financial services group reported revenue of R16bn from African operations, excluding those in their home nation of South Africa, contributed to 23 percent of the group’s total banking activities last year.
Both mandatory and discretionary, auditing comes in many guises
A necessary undertaking for public companies, an integrated audit entails the auditing of both financial statements and internal control over financial reporting. Necessarily conducted by an external auditor, integrated audits are advantageous in that they encourage a holistic approach to the internal auditing process.
Conducted by either an asset manager or an outside firm, a performance audit verifies performance figures with those demonstrated to the public. Beneficial in that a performance audit allows an accurate insight into a firm’s returns.
Quality audits entail the systematic examination of a quality system, undertaken by either an internal or external quality auditor. Quality audits are integral in determining compliance with a defined quality system process and are a necessary requirement in maintaining the ISO quality system standard.
Regular health check audits are carried out for purposes in understanding the present state of a specific project. Primarily conducted by an independent party, regular health checks are intended to further increase productivity or otherwise effectiveness.
Energy audits consist of an inspection, survey and analysis of energy consumption. Largely intended for the bettering of energy conservation, input is often sought to be reduced though without the hindering of subsequent output. Energy audits are largely meant for reducing overheads.
Otherwise termed financial, regulatory audits are intended for assessing the legality of processes pertaining to financial operations. Encompassing management, collections and expenditure, regulatory audits seek to determine a true and fair representation of policy and financial management.
Research has shown that companies giving back to the communities in which they work tend to enjoy better long-term results
An organisation famed for valuing innovation and entrepreneurship, IBM helps its employees to give back to the community in the way they best see fit. IBM distributes Activity Kits, each one designed around different volunteering opportunities. For those who want to use their expertise to help educate others, there are kits advising on how to conduct workshops for adults who want to get into the industries IBM operates in. Employees wanting to inspire future generation can use kits to engage children in workshops that see students make anything from paper dog houses to solar-powered model cars. Or those who prefer a more hands-on approach they can volunteer to help in disaster zones.
According to Henry Ford, “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business”. This inspired Ford’s Accelerated Action Day in 2012, which saw more than 600 employees in American branches step away from their desks to work in local community projects, supported by various charities. Volunteers were dispatched to shelters, schools and family centres, helping to clean, paint and build in their on-going renovation missions. Projects included renovating shelter rooms for the Salvation Army’s centre in Detroit, building houses with Habitat for Humanity and creating therapy rooms for children with the First Step Domestic Violence Program.
JP Morgan engages in many community projects globally, but recent years have seen emphasise focused on improving education on both sides of the Atlantic. Last year they helped to fund Achieve Together, a drive to recruit and inspire good teachers in disadvantaged areas of the UK. The first phase of the programme will roll out later this year, estimating to help 8,000 pupils. 2010 saw the firm launch a $325m initiative to support publically-funded schools in the US. The company granted $50m to community-development financial institutions to support new schools, as well as helping to tackle the financial problems of schools that already have a strong academic track record to keep them afloat.
5by20 is Coca-Cola’s initiative to empower five million female entrepreneurs worldwide by 2020. The multinational aims to focus its efforts on the small businesses across the world, currently focusing on Brazil, South Africa, the Philippines and India, by providing training with financial resources and mentors to women looking to get ahead in business. Since launching the program in 2010, Coca-Cola claim to have economically enabled more than 131,000 women. As part of the program, a new initiative in Kenya has helped female farmers grow mangoes for locally sold fruit juices, which has in turn helped create sustainable livelihoods around the farms.
As part of Johnson and Johnson’s No More Tears brand’s 50th anniversary, its Clean Water Initiative was launched as a combined effort with non-profit charity Water for People. Operating under the slogan “Because every baby deserves clean water”, the program has aided small, rural communities in ten of world’s poorest countries, including Malawi and West Bengal to tackle water contamination. The charity not only educates communities but also installs sanitation facilities in schools to provide clean water to hundreds of thousands of children.
Defined benefit pensions come under scrutiny
Disgruntled shareholders at Swiss private bank vote to reject remuneration report at annual meeting
The US Federal Reserve is strongly encouraging banks to consider their internal auditing strategies to avoid regulatory intervention
The African bank is under investigation by the SEC following allegations of fraud by a suspended company executive
Sustainability advocate SASB is aiming to transform the way a number of core US industries report on their environmental and social practices
Nigerian Securities and Exchange Commission investigating allegations of fraud in one of Africa’s largest banking institutions
The 2013 Ethics and Leadership Conference has highlighted the need for companies within the same industry to group together to exercise their corporate social responsibility
US courts find arbitration agreements signed by employees are ‘unconscionable’
Luigi Zingales on the possibility of a mandatory disclosure rule
Apple’s market value rose by an estimated $17bn after billionaire investor Carl Icahn tweeted his support for the company. Shares have since hit a seven-month high
The QCA has published a new guidance code for SMEs, focusing primarily on delivering long-term shareholder value
The Corporate Governance Report Awards celebrates leaders and innovators in financial reportage, transparency and shareholder relations. We identify those organisations setting the standard in internal …