[Joint Press Release]
Press Release: Voting results of shareholder resolution for MUFG (2nd tally)
(March 31, 2022)
Rainforest Action Network (RAN)
In 2021, a shareholder resolution jointly submitted by Kiko Network and three individuals affiliated with environmental NGOs calling on the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) to adopt and disclose a plan to align its financing and investments with the goals of the Paris Agreement failed to pass at the June 29 annual general meeting of shareholders in 2021, but it did garner the support of about 23% of the votes.
After our November 2021 announcement of voting results (first tally), we continued to monitor disclosure information and hereby announce our second tally of votes.
Reviewing publicly-available information up to February 28, 2022, we have ascertained the results of voting by MUFG’s institutional investors and found that 52 of 145 institutions supported our resolution, while 85 were opposed. With the numbers now updated to include voting by affiliates, institutions in support more than doubled from first tally when 20 institutions were in support.
Institutional investors for
Unknown (not disclosed separately)
Many institutional investors supported our resolution despite the lack of support from major proxy advisory firms Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), and we take this as a sign of growing understanding and support among institutional investors for shareholder resolutions on climate change or sustainability. Meanwhile, there are also signs that the company attempted to have dialog with institutional investors before they exercised their voting rights, and given the growing global interest in environmental, social and governance (ESG) investments and sustainability, institutional investors and companies are increasingly expected to promote constructive dialog (engagement) regarding stewardship and to take real climate action.
Reasons given for opposing a similar resolution in 2020 targeting the Mizuho Financial Group included the view that “it was not appropriate for shareholders to dictate specific details in a company’s articles of incorporation affecting the execution of company business”. However, reasons raised for opposing our 2021 MUFG resolution were that the company was already in agreement with its intent and that concrete details were already incorporated into management plans, so writing specific targets into the articles of incorporation would limit the flexibility of management. As with the Mizuho resolution, we can see that some institutional investors seriously considered these topics and supported the resolution, having the opinion that even though it might not be appropriate to write measures to address climate change into a company’s articles of incorporation, climate change is indeed an important matter and its inclusion in medium and long-term plans does affect corporate value.
After we submitted our shareholder resolution, MUFG did develop guidelines on climate change and strengthen its policies. We believe that the resolution did have an impact, considering the fact that in May 2021 MUFG became the first Japanese bank to join the Net-Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA). Also, the resolution served as an opportunity to focus institutional investors’ attention on the decarbonization efforts of MUFG’s management going forward. Plus, all of this is in the context of a growing awareness that a company’s efforts and stance on climate-related risks will help improve shareholder value in the medium to long term. However, it is still unclear how MUFG intends to achieve net zero and how its policies align with the goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C.
Over the past few years, there have been more and more shareholder resolutions worldwide relating to climate change, so many financial institutions and other companies have been unable to ignore the voices of institutional investors. In response to this trend, Kiko Network and partner NGOs will continue in our efforts at dialog with MUFG and continue to call for stronger climate commitments in its investment and financing policies and the implementation of real actions.
Voting results of Kiko Network’s shareholder resolution filed with MUFG (2nd tally) (PDF)
Joint Press Release: Japan’s Largest Bank Targeted by Climate Resolution: Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group told to align with Paris, March 29, 2021 https://www.kikonet.org/press-release-en/2021-03-29/MUFG-shareholder-resolution
Briefing: Second Explanatory Briefing for Investors on the Shareholder Proposal for the 16th Annual General Meeting of Shareholders of MUFG (June 2, 2021). https://www.kikonet.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/MUFG-2nd-Investor-Briefing-ENG_June2021_FINAL.pdf
Briefing: Third Explanatory Briefing for Investors on the Shareholder Proposal for the 16th Annual General Meeting of Shareholders of MUFG (June 25, 2021). https://www.kikonet.org/press-release-en/2021-06-25/MUFG-investor-briefing3
Joint Press Release: Shareholders send MUFG a stark climate warning (June 29, 2021). https://www.kikonet.org/press-release-en/2021-06-29/MUFG-AGM
Joint Press Release: Voting results of shareholder resolution for MUFG (1st tally) (November 19, 2021)
Kiko Network www.kikonet.org Tokyo Office: TEL:+81-3-3263-9210
＊MUFG: The 16th Annual General Meeting of Shareholders