Almost 130 institutional investors adopt Japan shareholder code

TOKYO, June 10 Tue Jun 10, 2014 6:08am EDT

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TOKYO, June 10 (Reuters) - Almost 130 institutional investors in Japan have adopted new government guidelines on shareholders' involvement in the firms they own which are designed to improve corporate governance and investment returns, the financial regulator said on Tuesday.

The Japanese Stewardship Code calls on shareholders to disclose how they vote at annual general meetings and engage more actively with company management, with the ultimate goal of promoting sustainable growth in the corporate sector.

The code was compiled and announced in February as part of the government's drive to stimulate the economy, and was inspired by the U.K. Stewardship Code which was conceived after the global financial crisis of 2008.

Japan's Financial Services Agency on Tuesday said 127 investors such as asset managers, trust banks, insurers and pension funds, had committed to the code as at the end of May.

The list features about every major Japanese institutional investor, a senior FSA official said at a briefing on Tuesday, including the $1.26 trillion Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF).

Other big names include Nomura Holdings Inc's Nomura Asset Management Co Ltd, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings Inc's Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank Ltd, and Nippon Life Insurance Co.

Foreign institutions with investment in Japan that also signed up to the code include Fourth Swedish National Pension Fund (AP4) and Britain's Railway Pension Trustee Co Ltd.

The FSA official said Japanese company managers are not particularly good at communicating with investors, and that adopting the code could help improve the situation.

The FSA said it will update the list every three months. (Reporting by Taiga Uranaka; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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