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TIAA-CREF Backs Corporate Governance Reforms

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NU Online News Service, June 6, 3:55 p.m. – The Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association-College Retirement Equities Fund, New York, has announced its strong support for corporate governance reforms recommended recently by a New York Stock Exchange panel.

The panel, the Corporate Accountability and Listing Standards Committee, says the New York Stock Exchange board should require that independent corporate board members be more independent, and that members of audit, nominating and compensation committees be drawn solely from the ranks of independent directors.

The panel also says NYSE member companies should give shareholders a chance to vote on all stock-based compensation programs that might dilute shareholder ownership.

Peter Clapman, chief counsel for TIAA-CREF, a nonprofit retirement program that manages $275 billion in assets, says that the NYSE should adopt the reforms immediately, and that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission should move to restore investor confidence by ensuring that the reforms apply to companies listed on all major exchanges, including Nasdaq.

“Even before, but especially since the collapse of Enron, investor confidence in United States capital markets has been shaken by a rash of events and disclosures indicating that numerous boards of directors are not meeting their fiduciary responsibilities to shareholders,” Clapman says in a statement accompanying the TIAA-CREF announcement. “The financial community and the entire nation have a huge stake in remedying the ills that have plagued too many boardrooms and eroded confidence in our capital markets.”

Implementing the NYSE panel reforms would create a healthier balance between the privileges of management and the rights of shareholders, Clapman says.