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UK shareholders 'get more active'

7 September 09 12:27 GMT

Voting turnout by investors in FTSE 100 firms has risen, a report suggests, as shareholders make their opinions heard on how company affairs are handled.

Votes were cast by 67.3% of investors at annual general meetings, in the year to 31 July 2009 said Manifest Research.

This compared with 63% a year earlier and 53.2% in 2002-3.

High turnout at meetings of firms such as Royal Dutch Shell and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) resulted in proposed pay packages being rejected.

Block votes

Shell hit trouble after the Association of British Insurers (ABI), a large investor and a corporate governance agency expressed concerns about its plan.

The ABI said issued an "amber top" notice to its members after the oil giant decided award managers bonuses despite the company's failure to meet pre-set targets.

These are issued when it feels a firm has deviated from best corporate governance practice.

Manifest, which publishes its full report later this week, is expected to reveal that voting by investors at annual general meetings of European companies has risen above 50% for the first time. In 2006-07 the figure was just 40%.

Research manager Alan Brett said it was not necessarily the financial crisis alone that was responsible for pushing up voter participation.

Investors had been moving into blue chip firms he said, adding turnout at FTSE 250 firms had been flat.

A growing number of firms having investors that owned large holdings was also pushing up turnout he said.

These included some mining firms and recently merged companies such as Reuters Thomson. Meanwhile Lloyds Group and RBS now have the government as a large investor.

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