US Government requires Franklin Resources to hold vote on shareholder resolution raising human rights concerns over its investments in firms linked to Sudan

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9 January 2014

SEC rules Franklin Resources may not omit genocide-related proposal from proxy

Author: Investors Against Genocide

Today, the [US] Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC] made public a rejection of the attempt by Franklin Resources, parent company of Franklin Templeton..., to suppress a genocide-free investing shareholder proposal from its proxy ballot...The proposal, coordinated by Investors Against Genocide, requests “that the Board institute transparent procedures to avoid holding or recommending investments in companies that, in management’s judgment, substantially contribute to genocide or crimes against humanity..." ...[The] SEC...stated, “...[The] proposal focuses on the significant policy issue of human rights and does not seek to micromanage the company.”...Eric Cohen, chairperson of Investors Against Genocide [, said,] " not want their pensions and family savings connected to genocide...[Ordinary] investors who see the proposal will vote their values..." ...[Votes] on genocide-free investing at JPMorgan Chase have drawn support from T. Rowe Price, CalPERS, CalSTRS, Connecticut State Pension, Florida State Board of Administration, New York State Pension, NYCERS [and others]... [also refers to PetroChina, TIAA-CREF, American Funds (part of Capital Group)]

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9 January 2014

U.S. SEC nudges Franklin Resources toward vote on Sudan holdings

Author: Ross Kerber, Reuters

U.S. regulators rejected a request by investment firm Franklin Resources Inc [holding company for Franklin Templeton] to skip a shareholder vote pressuring it to sell off holdings in companies linked to Sudan, whose president faces international war crimes charges. The the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission made it more likely that the company will put the measure on proxy materials to be mailed to shareholders...Shareholder activists praised the SEC's decision in part because it called their human-rights concerns a "significant policy issue." This wording was stronger than the agency has used when evaluating similar proposals in the past... Investors Against Genocide...has pressed financial companies for years over their investments related to Sudan with mixed results, often facing opposition from executives who say their firms already comply with international law... In November,...attorneys for Franklin...argued...that the proposal would micro manage the company's decisions and that Franklin has already adopted principles for responsible investing. [also refers to PetroChina, China National Petroleum Corp]

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