Standard Bank rejects calls to drop directors over ties to fossil fuel industry

KARL GERNETZKY

Africa’s largest bank by assets, Standard Bank, says it rejects calls from climate activists to vote against five members of its board in the wake of the group not tabling climate change resolutions at its upcoming AGM.

Lobby group Just Share has called for shareholders to vote against board members with ties to fossil fuels at the group’s AGM on June 26. This follows the group saying it will not table a resolution related to financing of fossil fuels, which also commits to a hard deadline for enhanced disclosures related to climate risk.

In an opinion article by Standard Bank’s head of group policy and sustainability, Wendy Dobson, the group said it was committed to the issue of climate change, but that the call undermined its work.

“Unfortunately, after Standard Bank declined to table the latest climate-related resolutions put forward by activist shareholders there have been calls to vote against the re-election of five of our non-executive directors due to perceived conflicts of interest,” Dobson said.

“These directors are valuable members of the group board, and all conflicts of interest are governed by the Companies Act. These directors continue to fulfil their fiduciary duties in an exemplary manner.”

The bank “fully recognises the need for, and the work done by, activist shareholders, who play an important role in holding corporates to account and constantly elevating standards of governance”, the article read.

“But the board is of the view that the resolutions proposed ahead of its 2020 annual meeting undermine the work it is already doing in these areas, and undermine the role of its directors.”

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