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Finance

Dai-ichi Life Insurance to disclose votes as an investor

Becomes first in industry to heed new guidelines aimed at boosting transparency

TOKYO -- Dai-ichi Life Insurance will disclose how it voted on proposals at companies in which it has invested, becoming the first Japanese life insurer to follow guidelines aimed at increasing transparency for institutional investors.

Beginning around this fall, the Dai-ichi Life Holdings unit will publicize records of its votes at shareholder meetings held between July 2016 and June 2017, on its website and other platforms. The information, which it plans to update regularly, will cover about 2,200 companies and more than 8,000 decisions.

The insurer has disclosed data on similar votes in the past on such decisions as director appointments and executive compensation without disclosing names of particular companies. But this latest move could clear any suspicion that it is colluding with companies that are investment targets or group-insurance customers.

Market leader Nippon Life Insurance is considering similar action. Meanwhile, Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance is thinking about releasing voting records initially on its special-account investments in about 400 companies -- a limited scope compared with Dai-ichi Life, which will publish information about general-account investments as well.

Some life insurers are cautious because the votes of institutional investors could swing share prices and influence other shareholders. Votes critical of management could create friction, and if the investment target happens to be a major customer, the insurer could hurt its own core operations. Hence, market players' stances vary on market stability and transparency.

The Financial Services Agency's revised stewardship code encourages institutional investors to release specific votes on key items such as the selection of directors and auditors, as well as executive compensation, and requests explanations when an investor decides not to publicize the information.

Some major trust banks and asset management companies are already adopting the guidelines. Nomura Holdings unit Nomura Asset Management recently disclosed its January-March votes on about 2,635 items via its website, and intends to update the information quarterly. Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking, a unit of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, plans to release its voting records as early as August. 

(Nikkei)

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