Walmart Investors Unhappy with Board Members
By Laura Elliott.
Reportedly, a number of independent investors in US retail giant Walmart have voted more than 10% of the chain’s shares against the retailer’s chairman, and current and former chief executives. The move is thought to have come as part of a protest over allegations of bribery in the organisation’s Mexican branches, and issues with who is in charge.
All of the Walmart board nominees were elected, but the final results, which were released this Monday, reveal that four of those standing received protest votes above the 10% level that a well-respected research group had claimed would signify significant opposition.
As reported by the Financial Times, support for Walmart’s chairman, Rob Walton, has fallen to 87.3% from more than 99% of the votes last year. Support for Lee Scott, who, at the time of the alleged bribery in Mexico was Walmart’s chief executive, also fell from 99% last year to 84.35% this year.
A number of public pension funds based in California, Florida, New York and Connecticut had made it clear that they planned to vote against some of the directors. The groups complained that the retailer’s board and internal investigation into the alleged bribery was not sufficiently independent.
However, the election of the nominees was never really in doubt. The places were confirmed at Walmart’s annual meeting last Friday, because the family of the retailer’s founder, Sam Walon, own almost 50% of the company’s shares.
A spokesperson for Walmart said that “Our independent [compensation, nominating and governance committee] nominated the directors and obviously a substantial majority of our shareholders supported their election.” According to the US retail giant, eleven out of their sixteen directors are independent.
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