Pension Fund To Vote Against Sears’ Directors
CHICAGO (AP) _ The nation’s largest public employees pension fund said it will vote its entire block of Sears, Roebuck and Co. stock against re-electing three of the retailing giant’s directors.
″Sears’ continual poor performance and the board’s obvious reluctance to insist that CEO (Edward) Brennan make the changes necessary to save this company compelled us to express our displeasure in some tangible way,″ said Dale Hanson, head of the California Public Employees Retirement System.
The system, commonly known as Calpers, owns nearly 2 million shares. Calpers said it also intends to vote in favor of four of five shareholder proposals at Sears’ May 14 annual meeting.
The proposals include one to end Sears’ system of staggered terms for directors. Under staggered terms, directors are elected a few at a time, instead of the entire board going up for a vote at once.
Another proposal calls for Brennan’s job of chairman and CEO to be split into two positions.
″We are not satisfied that the existing management is doing all it can to save the company,″ said Kay Gillam, a lawyer for the pension fund.
Sears reacted quickly to Calpers’ announcement Wednesday.
″We are surprised and disappointed with the position taken by Calpers,″ Sears said in a statement. ″Calpers’ announcement fails to recognize Sears’ improved performance in 1991 with net earnings of $1.279 billion, up 40 percent in a recession.″
Sears has come under increasing criticism from investors and Wall Street analysts in recent years because of continuing problems in its merchandising unit. The company has been restructuring its retail operations, cutting 42,650 jobs since 1990 in an effort to improve the unit’s profitability.