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When Pension Funds Turn Activists

Louis M. Thompson | December 17, 2013

There's a new wrinkle to contend with during the coming proxy season next year: Previously docile public pension funds are becoming activist investors and may be the new “barbarians at the gate.” Their tactic is to target individual directors of companies they consider to have poor board governance.

Ira Millstein, who specializes in corporate governance at law firm Weil Gotshal & Manges, says it's significant that large public pension funds are pushing for companies to make changes. “The biggest pension fund, California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), is taking an activist role, going to companies and saying, ‘You really ought to change,'” he says. The second largest, California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS),...

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