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October 19, 2018

Former SEC Commissioner: California Pension Voters Want “Performance Over Politics”

Paul Atkins, a former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) commissioner and the current CEO of Patomak Global partners, said in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that the California Public Employees’ Retirement System’s vote to change its leadership is a sign investors want to “prioritize performance over politics.”

Members of the fund, known as Calpers, voted for a new president who criticized the previous regime for its focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing rather than “the agency’s fiduciary duty to maximize investor returns.” Calpers had previously signed a petition calling on the SEC to mandate that public companies disclose ESG information, which Atkins said would “divert resources away from business operations and growth” and is “simply an attempt to shame public companies into compliance with activists’ demands.”

Atkins said “lawmakers and pension-fund managers should take note” of the Calpers vote as “activists continue to work other channels to impose agenda-driven requirements on public companies.”

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