Mutual funds mostly 'yes-man' investors in companies?

Monday, June 27, 2011
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New Delhi: Mutual funds enjoy significant voting power in key decisions of listed firms as their major non-promoter shareholders, but mostly act as yes-men or remain indifferent when proposals are put to vote by the companies. A host of the fund houses, including leaders like ICICI Prudential and Reliance Mutual Fund , have disclosed this passive stance after being pushed by the market watchdog Sebi to make public their votes as shareholders of various firms. In most cases, the fund houses have either voted in favour of the proposals made by the companies or have decided to abstain from voting. As per the disclosures, the instances of a mutual fund voting against a proposal is abysmally low. The voting pattern is also in sharp contrast to Sebi's aim to push the mutual funds to act as conscience-keeper of listed firms by actively voicing their support or opposition to various business decisions of the companies. Sebi made it mandatory last year for the fund houses to make public their 'voting policy' and also their votes, but it took another reminder by the regulator last month for them to declare their voting details. Subsequently, the funds have disclosed their votes for the fiscal year 2010-11, but Sebi is unsatisfied with details provided by some of them, a senior official said. In some cases, funds have disclosed their votes without even naming the company, while there are also instances of all votes not being disclosed, the official added. Unsatisfied by the disclosure of many fund houses, Sebi is considering certain changes in its rules and might ask the funds to be more specific, including about reasons behind their voting decisions, especially when abstaining from vote. The disclosures show that ICICI Pru abstained from voting on all the proposals put to vote, barring those by three public sector lenders Canara Bank , UCO Bank and Union Bank. It did not vote against a single proposal of the companies where it has invested. On the other hand, the country's largest fund Reliance MF voted in favour of a vast majority of the proposals, while in some cases it abstained from voting. However, Reliance MF also did not vote against a single proposal. Both ICICI Pru and Reliance MF did not reply to detailed queries from PTI about their voting disclosures, including the rationale behind their voting decisions. The disclosures of a host of other fund houses, including UTI , SBI , HDFC , Bharti AXA, Birla Sunlife, Sahara and Quantum Mutual Fund, show a similar pattern, where the funds have mostly voted either in favour of the proposals made by the companies, or have abstained from voting. The disclosures showed only a few instances of voting against a proposal.
Source: PTI
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