“Corporate Governance of Japan – Analysis and Prospects –” was presented at BDTI Seminar held on October 2 2017 “Corporate Governance of Japan – Analysis and Prospects -” was presented at BDT Seminar held on October 2 2017 as the update research of Corporate Governance of Japan at the BDTI Seminar in March and Goldman Sachs Securities Seminar in April 2017. The updated […]
CG Top 20 stocks raised its outperformance, hitting all-time high Top 20 CG Score Index continued outperformance for September 2017 in favor of stock market rally for September. CG top 20 stocks hit its all time high of June 2015 when Corporate Governance Code was launched. This would be due to a sign that an increasing number of long-term investors are coming […]
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August CG Score inched up 0.7pt YoY
CG Rating Monthly Letter
1. CG Score attribution analysis (08/2016-08/2017)
CG score of core research universe of 489 companies for 1 year period from August 2016 to August 2017 rose 0.7 pt to 61.7 pt from 61.0 pt a year ago. Core universe increased 30 companies to 489 from 459 companies as JPX400 composites have been renewed in the month. The rise in average score keeps improving at modest rate, whereas the change in score from the previous month of 459 companies from July 2016 to July 2017 rose 0.8 pt.
We are reviewing CG enhancement in Japan before / after AGM in June 2017, but that shows modest improvement after AGM. The analysis will be released soon after review.
We were amiss…in that we recently discovered this video interview of Nicholas Benes made some months ago, has been kindly made public by Econvue.com . (Econvue provides succinct, timely, evidence-based research and commentary on economic topics that matter, delivered to your inbox. ) In it, Mr. Benes explains how a number of major steps […]
Yes, it is true. Secom’s pension fund is the only one. Following the report of a government study group urging private pension funds to sign the Stewardship Code, it is an open secret that many firms in industrial Japan are now waiting for either Panasonic or Toyota to sign the Stewardship Code. If one of these iconic companies’ pension funds signs, it is said there will be an avalanche of other corporate funds that sign. Conversely, if neither of them signs, everyone can use that as an excuse for why they did not sign, e.g. “even mainstream companies like Toyota or Panasonic did not sign it yet.”.
Oddly, Japanese companies pride themselves on the strength of their covenant to employees, yet neglect employees’ pensions by failing to sign the stewardship code and report how they have handled those funds. Why is this? Quite simply, Japanese companies are afraid that if their pension funds become more proactive, those same governance and proxy voting practices might come back and hit them in the face at their own shareholders meeting. What is in the best interests of employees’ pensions may not be in the self-interest of corporate executives. This breaks the most important link in the investment chain – asset owner voice.
Here is an article from Bloomberg focusing on this increasingly interesting situation:
” “The only way you can explain this behavior pattern is to say that, let’s face it, senior executives don’t want active proxy voting and engagement in the market,” said Nicholas Benes, the Tokyo-based head of the Board Director Training Institute of Japan. He said they fear “blowback” at their own shareholder meetings. Judging by their actions, “they care more about that than they do about their employees’ funds,” he said.”
The GPIF should be highly commended for including reference to “the corporate governance codes of each country” to its recent statements regarding its stewardship policy and its proxy voting policy. This is a major step forward, considering the politics that it faces and the long-standing and unfounded claim by leaders in the industrial community who claim that if the GPIF had its own “principles and guidance for governance and proxy voting”, that would be “intervening in managerial decision making. Even though the reference in the recently-released principles bends over backwards to encourage “giving a full hearing to explanations of non-compliance”, if you know the full background, this is significant progress. (For the first time, the GPIF has uttered the words “corporate governance code” in writing!)
PRI published a “Japan Roadmap” suggesting improvements in Japan regarding fiduciary duty and ESG practices. (http://bit.ly/2pmrbus) The Roadmap cited BDTI’s recent joint research with METRICAL with regard to our analysis showing that lower cross-shareholders correlate with better corporate performance.
Quote from the PRI’s introduction of the Roadmap: “Japan’s governance reforms will fail unless more asset owners join in, and all the talk about stewardship is accompanied by analysis, action and sweat,” said Nicholas Benes, representative director, The Board Director Training Institute of Japan. “The Japan Roadmap makes sensible recommendations to turn governance goals into realities.”
This is an insightful report with some similar conclusions that recent analysis by BDTI and Metrical (Titlis) also reveals, which will be the subject of a seminar on 3/16. In particular, the presence of large owners matters, foreign shareholders select well-governed and well-performing companies (a leading indicator for decades), and the quality of directors matters. The latter point is the reason why BDTI is focused like a laser on director training. The pilot analogy has been in my materials since 2014. I am tickled pink if the FSA has adopted it. Quote: “Improving board behaviour is a mindset issue, not a regulatory one. A successful company should be willing to encourage open debate. More so for a company that has been struggling for years with its strategic direction. ….. Independent directors should not be viewed as an ‘unavoidable cost’ but as a ‘wise investment’ for firms. …Would an airline actively seek unqualified pilots to fly its passengers?”
Pity poor Hitachi.
In 2015 Hitachi, accustomed to the forgiving corporate governance culture of Japan, acquired control of Italian railway operator Ansaldo STS, a publicly listed company, without fully comprehending the traps for the unwary that lurk in corporate governance environments outside Japan. The shareholder list of Ansaldo STS, it turns out, was loaded with sophisticated hedge funds that have cleverly exploited their “rights” as minority shareholder “victims” to try to shake down Hitachi for more cash. The case for victimhood made by the hedge funds is superficially appealing, but on closer analysis unpersuasive.