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Fund Managers Worry About Regulators: Survey

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NU Online News Service, Nov. 1, 11:20 a.m. – As nationwide elections approach, professional investors are split on an array of politically sensitive issues confronting the capital markets, concludes a newly released study by Broadgate Consultants, Inc., New York.

The study found 45% of the 334 respondents from investment institutions believe that the election outcome hinges on factors other than voter concerns about the economy, such as foreign policy and health care issues.

But 44% said the economy will be the most important factor influencing the result. The remainder were unsure.

Forty-four percent of respondents also thought that embattles Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Harvey L. Pitt should hang on to his job. The remainder were unsure or thought he should resign, due to such controversies as the appointment of Judge William H. Webster as chair of the new Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. Around 88% of the respondents were unwillingly to say Webster was the best choice for the job. In fact, most respondents viewed John H. Biggs, outgoing head of the TIAA-CREF pension fund, as more qualified for the position.

Although 37.3% of the fund managers believe the stock market is undervalued, just over half felt the opposite and 11% were unsure. One issue where there was near unanimity, however, was on the need for continued corporate governance and disclosure reforms. Eighty-three percent of the respondents said that they would favor reforms even if stock market conditions improve and corporate scandals abate.

Sixty-six percent of the investors said that companies should repeal or amend anti-takover provisions in their by-laws, similar to Aetna’s recently announced decision to reduce the vote required for shareholders to approve mergers to 51%, from the two-thirds majority required today.