As the list of JSE casualties mounts, with investors losing billions of rand every day, any hope that institutional shareholders would be able to step in and effect a speedy resolution to our troubled corporates suffered a nasty reality check at Coronation Fund Managers’ (CFM’s) recent annual general meeting (AGM). The fund manager’s chief investment officer, Karl Leinberger, described institutional shareholder activism as a glacially slow process that is slowed even further by a pro-board and anti-shareholder legislative framework. As the largest listed fund manager, CFM is both a substantial investor and an investee, a sort of poacher and game-keeper rolled into one. Until recently, perhaps because CFM was flying high, this was cause for little concern. But a few years ago — five, to be precise — shareholder activist Theo Botha started to pitch up at the AGMs. He has been concerned about CFM’s shockingly poor remuneration disclosure. His gripe is that CFM is flaunting some of the ...

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