This timelines tries to give an overview of the minutes from the East Sussex County Council Pension Fund Investment Panel for the period 1974 to 2007. It focuses on socially responsible investment, corporate governance and the ‘active shareholder’ approach. Events may have been missed out because there was an inch thick worth of minutes to go through. If relevant dates or events are absent from this list, please send an email and they will be added here.
See the minutes of these meetings, the questions that arise from them and the analysis in the headers above.
27th Nov 1974 – Background meeting to the formation of the Pension Fund. Briefly outlines “powers and limitations under which the sub-committee would exercise its future management and investment policy.” Sub-committee resolved that:
“(a) an investment Panel consisting of the Chairman, the County Treasurer, an investment adviser and two firms of stockbrokers be set up…to advise the sub-committee on investment policy.”
“(c) the County Treasurer be authorised to carry out routine investment work in collaboration with the stockbrokers within the policy laid down by the sub-committee…”
10th Jan 1975 – First Meeting of ESCC Superannuation Investment Panel. Policy framework set out and measurement of performance debated.
“A. Aim of investment policy: the County Treasurer stated this as, to maximise available funds within an acceptable pattern of risk and within any statutory limitations imposed on specific investment areas.”
8 May 1975 – “17.3 RESOLVED (2) to ask the County Treasurer to include in any future list of transactions, the date and price at which purchases and/or sales had been effected.”
8 July 1975 – amalgamate work of investment panel with the Sub-Committee
10 April 1986 – First time specified that public and press excluded from meetings:
“2.1 The Sub-Committee resolved to exclude the public and press from the meeting for the business specified in the agenda items 2, 3 and 4 on the grounds that if the public were present during those items of business there would be a disclosure to them of exempt information falling within Schedule 12A of the local Government Act 1972 paragraph 7. The reports contain information relating to the financial or business affairs of particular persons.”
9 October 1986 – The confidential minutes show the fees for the fund managers. It also outlines how they are calculated.
“35.3 County Investment Management £187,500 per annum and Barclays de Zoete Wedd Investment £195,000 per annum.”
5 February 1987 – SOUTH AFRICA
“42.1 The County Treasurer presented a report, a copy of which is included in the Minute Book, which set out the decisions of the County Council in November 1986 and the Policy and Resources Committee at the meeting on 27th January, 1987.
“42.2 The Sub-Committee noted the position and would await the decision of the County Council on 3rd March, 1987.”
9th April 1987
“54.1 The County Treasurer reported that the County Council, at the meeting on 3rd March, 1987, referred back the report on South Africa to the Policy and Resources Committee for further consideration. A report will be presented to the Sub-Committee after this has occurred
“54.2 The Sub-Committee noted the position and in particular that no specific policy guidelines on investment in South Africa had therefore been agreed.”
25 June 1987 – Investments in South Africa
“11.1 The County Treasurer reported the decision of the County Council on 12th May 1987. His report was amended, on the legal advice of the County Secretary, by the deletion of the final sentence in paragraph 2 of the report. A copy of the amended report is included in the Minute Book.
“11.2 The Sub-Committee RESOLVED that the County Council policy should be added to the Policy Guidelines agreed at the meeting on 10th April 1986.”
8 October 1987 – “23. ATTENDANCE AT ANNUAL GENERAL MEETINGS”
“23.1 The Sub-Committee received a report by the County Treasurer, a copy of which is included in the Minute Book, and RESOLVED that there should be no change in the existing practice for attendance at annual general meetings and, therefore, no attendance at the AGM of Consolidated Goldfields plc scheduled for 4th November, 1987.”
27 October 1993 – POLICY FOR INVESTMENT IN SOUTH AFRICA
“25.1 The County Treasurer reported that the Management and Finance Sub-Committee on 25 October 1993 had asked that the Sub-Committee to reconsider the policy guidelines for investment in South Africa in view of the changing situation.
“25.2 The Sub-Committee RESOLVED to seek the views of the Fund Managers on the existing guideline for investment and on the opportunities for investment in South Africa in order that a report can be submitted to the next meeting.”
27 January 1994 – Derivatives first used and South Africa continued
“36 INVESTMENT IN SOUTH AFRICA – REVIEW OF POLICY GUIDELINE
“36.1 The Sub-Committee received a report from the County Treasurer, a copy of which is included in the Minute Book, and RESOLVED to recommend to the Management and Finance Sub-Committee that the existing restrictions within the policy guidelines be lifted.”
26 January 1995 – First real mention of some kind of active shareholder approach in companies
“28.1 (ii) to authorise attendance by members of the Sub-Committee as apropriate at general meetings of companies where the Fund holds shares, and to approve the payment of travel and subsistence allowances.”
“(iii) to ask the County Treasurer, together with the Vice Chairman, to liase with the two Fund Managaers and the Investment Adviser regarding more active participation in corporate governance issues.”
27 April 1995 – The Sub-Committee RESOLVED “37.1 (i) to authorise the Fund Managers to exercise the Fund’s shareholder’s votes on a discretionary basis in accordance with the interests of the Fund, subject to any specific instructions on a particular issue. The Fund Managers have agreed to report at each quarterly meeting, on an exceptions basis, any abstentions or contrary votes during the quarter.”
25 Apil 1996 – “47.5 Following discussion with the Fund Managers, the Sub Committee indicated that they would not be averse to donations being made by a company to all three of the major political parties.”
30 Jan 1997 – “34. ETHICAL INVESTMENT” – first time ‘ethical investment’ mentioned.
“34.1 The Sub-Committee RESOLVED:-
(i) to ask the County Treasurer to present a formal report on ethical investment to the next quarterly investment Sub-Committee meeting on 24 April 1997.”
24 April 1997 – ETHICAL INVESTMENT
“39.1 The Panel considered a report by the County Treasurer. They wished to consider further how they might adopt an active shareholder approach to encourage companies to comply with best ethical and environmental principles without jeopardising the investment performance of the Fund. Accordingly they resolved:
“(i) To ask the County Treasurer to undertake further discussion with all three Fund Managers as to how a socially responsible investment policy could be implemented in practice, and to report back to the next meeting”
They later Resolved (confidentially):
“(i) On investment grounds not to support the proposed shareholder resolution and ask the Fund Managers to abstain on the issue.”
“(ii) To write to the Directors of Shell explaining the Panel’s position and its support for the underlying objectives of the proposed shareholder resolution; and
“(iii) To ask the Fund Managers to continue to monitor the Company’s environmental performance”
31 July 1997 – ETHICAL INVESTMENT & Active Shareholder Approach
“4.1 The Panel considered a report by the County treasurer and RESOLVED:
“To endorse the development of an ‘Active Shareholder Approach’ which will encourage companies to adopt best ethical and environmental principles without jeopardising the investment performance of the Fund. The Country Trasurer will undertake further discussions with both PDFM and Gartmore to develop this approach further.”
27 Jan 2000 – Statement of Investment Principles (SIP) first mentioned
“18.1 The panel received a report from the County Treasurer, setting out a first draft Statement of Investment Principles (SIP). The Local Government Pension Scheme Ammendment Regulations 1999 require administering authorities to publish their Statement of Investment Principles by 3 July 2000.
30 May 2000 (£1.167 billion) – Statement of Investment Principles (SIP) adopted
“30.1 The Panel received a report by from the County Treasurer from the COunty Treasurer, setting out the amended draft statement of Investment Principles, along with further consideration of the Fund’s approach to Socially Responsible Investment (SRI).
“30.2 The Panel also received copies of a response received prior to the meeting from Ted Collict, Staff Representative, a copy of which is included in the Minute Book.
“Following discussion, the Panel reaffirmed the importance it attaches to SRI issues, together with its intention to maintain the ‘Active Shareholder’ approach to SRI.
“The Panel agreed that the key areas to focus on are:
“- Corporate governance
“- Employment standards
“- Human rights
“- Environment standards
“This has been incorporated in paragraph 3.8 of the SIP.
“30.3 The Panel RESOLVED:-
“(i) to adopt the Statement of Investment Principles
“(ii) to ask the fund managers to report regularly to the Panel on areas of concern they have identified and raised in discussion with companies. The Panel will keep the policy under review.”
1 August 2000 – The Panel Resolved:
“9.1 (i) To ask the Fund Managers to record the votes at Company annual meetings in their quarterly reports.”
17 November 2000
“16.1 III Corporate Governance – Reporting the votes at company’s annual meetings:
“The Fund managers have reported that the majority of companies do not announce the the results of voting at annual meetings.”
26 April 2001 (£1.105 billion) – Myners Report Outlined
“33.1 The Panel received a report by the County Treasurer, a copy of which is in the minute book, summarising three current pension fund issues:
“(i) Myners Report
“The report outlined recommendation made by the Myners Report into institutional investment in the UK.
“(ii) Corporate Governance
“The Panel received copies of the most recent socially responsible investment policy statements from all three of the Fund’s equity investment managers.”
9 July 2003 (£0.992 billion) –
“49.1 The Panel approved the updated version of the East Sussex Fund’s Statement of Investment Principles, subject to an amendment to the Voting Guidelines (Appendix E):-
“Political Donations – Vote Against
“49.2 Further consideration will be given to corporate governance reporting by Fund Managers and to the ‘ACTIVISM’ concept in paragraph 3.8 at a future Panel meeting.”
29 April 2004 –
“27.1 Councillor K Bodfish reported to the Panel that on 22 April 2004, Brighton & Hove Council had passed a resolution that:-
“The Brighton and Hove City Council believes that East Sussex Pension Fund membership of the Local Authorities Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) would help raise the fund’s ethical investment standards and therefore resolves to request the Council’s two representatives on the Pension Fund Investment Panel to raise this issue as a matter of urgency”.
“27.2 The Panel RESOLVED to consider the Brighton & Hove City Council Resolution and requested the Investment Adviser to submit a report on ethical investment to the Annual Strategy Meeting on 30 June 2004.”
30 June 2004 – “33.1 (iv) The Panel discussed a report by the Investment Adviser and requested further information on the LAPFF for consideration at the Panel meeting on 28 July 2004.”
28 July 2004 (£1.139 billion) – “9.1 Following a Resolution from Brighton & hove City Council the Panel received information, including subscription details, from the LAPFF. The Panel RESOLVED that the East Sussex Pension Fund should not subscribe to the LAPFF. This will be reviewed again in twelve months time.”
30 September 2007 – total market value of the fund £1.773 billion.
1 November 2007 – I have yet to draw up timeline entries from the minutes from November 2007 till the present. Please find them here after an FOI request was successful in having them released.