February 3, 2020 / 8:53 AM / 15 days ago

CORRECTED-(OFFICIAL)-UPDATE 1-British investor Legal & General to vote against combined chair/CEO roles

(In FEB 3 story LGIM corrects data on Spain, paragraph 5)

LONDON, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Legal & General’s investment management arm, one of Britain’s biggest investors, will vote against combined chief executive and board chairman roles globally, it said on Monday as part of its annual review of voting policies.

Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM) will also vote against all Topix 100 companies in Japan that do not have at least one woman on their board, it said in a statement.

The separation of CEO and board chair roles provides a better balance of authority and responsibility, Sacha Sadan, director of investment stewardship at LGIM said, adding there was “a worrying trend of companies splitting the roles after a scandal, then recombining over time”.

“We are sending a very clear message that we will not support a combined role going forward,” Sadan said.

LGIM said the issue was particularly acute in the United States, France and Spain. Forty-seven percent of S&P 500 boards have combined CEO and board chair roles and 20% of IBEX 35 companies in Spain do, along with 53% of France’s CAC 40 companies, it said.

The percentage of women board members at Japan’s TOPIX 100 companies rose above 10% for the first time last year, but this compares with 30% of Britain’s FTSE 350 and 27% of the S&P 500, LGIM said.

It said it would also vote against the largest 100 companies in the S&P 500 and Canada’s S&P/TSX where there are currently fewer than 25% of women on boards, as it extends voting on board diversity first introduced in 2015. (Reporting by Carolyn Cohn; Editing by Rachel Armstrong and Mark Potter)

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