Amazon investors face record 14 shareholder resolutions

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Amazon investors face record 14 shareholder resolutions

LONDON - Amazon faces 14 investor resolutions challenging its policies at its annual shareholder meeting on May 25 a record for the retail and cloud computing giant, as socially minded investors scrutinise its treatment of workers.

The rise in number of resolutions is evidenced by the rise of environmental, social and corporate governance ESG based investing, which is spurring more shareholders to push for corporate accountability.

It's been changed under securities regulators appointed by US President Joe Biden that have made it easier for investors to file proposals and make it harder for companies to convince regulators that resolutions should not go to a shareholder vote.

According to Insightia's research firm Insightia, a new record for resolutions at an S&P 500 company will be chalked up next week when Google parent Alphabet Inc faces 17 on Jun 1, the most since it began tracking them in 2014.

Almost ten of the shareholder resolutions that Amazon investors will vote on are related to worker rights and other social issues, such as calls for the company to report on worker health and safety or the treatment of its warehouse workers. The others call for things like a review of Amazon's use of plastic or changes to the company's process for board nominations.

Amazon has recommended that investors vote against all 14 resolutions, saying in its proxy statement that it has already acted to address the underlying concerns of a proposal. If they get backing of 30 per cent to 40 per cent of the votes cast, companies can take some form of action, even though the resolutions aren't binding.

In addition to that, Institutional Shareholder Services recommended investors vote for eight of the proposals, while Glass Lewis backed seven of them.

At the Amazon meeting, Ashley Hamilton Claxton, the head of responsible investment, said that Royal London Asset Management Ltd, Britain's largest mutual life, pensions and investment company, plans to vote in favor of six of the shareholder resolutions.

Britain's biggest asset manager, Legal General Investment Management, and British asset manager, Schroders Plc, have said they will back some of the investor resolutions ahead of Amazon's shareholder meeting.

Amazon is a popular holding among ESG-focused funds. According to Jefferies Financial Group Inc., about 32 percent of funds classified as promoting the environment or social justice under European Union rules are invested in Amazon. Microsoft Corp is a more popular holding, found in 39 per cent of such funds.

Brandon Rees, a deputy director for the AFL-CIO, said he hoped that ESG funds hold Amazon will more often support labor-focused resolutions.

It's my belief that worker rights and workers have been buried in the S' of the ESG, Rees said.