Foreign listed companies

Shareholder rights vary widely between countries. The rights to vote abroad are often more limited than in Sweden. AP4 operates many questions about shareholder rights abroad, that in Sweden is perceived as self-evident.

Companies that are prioritized

AP4 prioritizes corporate governance work in the companies where the AP Funds’ Ethical Council conducts dialogues, about 300, and in approximate 450 major international companies in the portfolio. With a focus on corporate governance, priority is given to markets and companies where AP4’s external managers are engaged.

A relatively small shareholder abroad

AP4 is a small shareholder abroad. Usually our holdings are less than 0.05 percent of the company. This affects the prospects of corporate governance as well as the access to the companies’ boards and management. 

AP4 has therefore chosen to cooperate with other investors, both Swedish and internationally, to pursue issues with greater weight.

Policy measures depend on company and country

Different countries have different laws, rules, praxis and traditions, which affects the ability to act as an active owner. The means to exercise corporate governance are numerous and can vary depending on what the owner wants to achieve and what is deemed to be most effective. To vote at companies’ annual meetings is a fundamental tool in corporate governance and during 2019 AP4 voted at 872 international AGM’s.  

AP4 tries to be pragmatic and adapt policy measures to each respective market. Trust and respect between the parties is always a prerequisite in order for dialogue to succeed.

In addition to voting at general meetings, cooperation with other institutional shareholders and interest groups is prioritized in order to push important issues of principle with more influence.

AP4 works with corporate governance abroad by: 

  • voting at general meetings
  • adding or supporting shareholder proposals for the meeting
  • maintaining dialogue with company boards, management teams and other owners
  • cooperating with other owners and organizations to pursue issues with increased influence
  • supporting organizations and projects that promote sustainability

Focus issues for AP4:

  • shareholders entitled to vote for their entire holding, add down proposals and propose own General Meeting points
  • independence of board members
  • CEO and chairman should be different people
  • Board of Directors shall be elected for a period of one year at a time
  • remuneration of senior executives
  • transparency, that is, open information disclosure and reporting
  • sustainability – environmental and ethical
  • barriers to takeover
  • capital structure such that shareholders should have the right to decide on share issues