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Rating:Putnam is Back in Action Not Rated 5.0 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Thursday, September 23, 2004

Putnam is Back in Action

Reported by Theresa Sim

After agreeing to a slew of disclosure and proxy reforms, Putnam Investments is back in favor with CalPERS and CalSTRS. The plan directors hope the rest of the industry will follow.

California Treasurer Phil Angelides said Putnam has been working with CalPERS, CalSTRS and the treasury office to craft new voluntary disclosures, many of which interestingly focus on benefits for retail investors.

Putnam will make a calculator available on their website that allows retail investors to see fees paid on hypothetical and actual investments.

The fund firm will also disclose management staff turnover and the commissions that it pays to the top two tiers of distributing broker-dealers.

On the management side, Putnam executives and marketing staff will be held to the same rules on fund holdings as employees currently bound by SEC rules.

Perhaps the most touted of the measures is that Putnam has agreed to undergo a special review of its proxy voting related to executive compensation. Angelides called the issue an important one for the pension funds; saying that pensions would do their part to "stop this era of excessive compensation...that we believe has been undermining the strength of the marketplace."

Just how interested are Angelides & Co. in executive compensation? Andrew Caffrey of the Boston Globe turned the issue around, questioning the California officials on whether they believed Putnam and parent-company Marsh McLennan executives are overpaid.

The officials responded that executive compensation -- industry-wide -- is and will remain an important issue for the pension plans.

Charles "Ed" Haldemann, chief executive officer of Putnam, summed up the moves as follows: "What we have jointly tried to do...is to put the individual mutual fund shareholder...in precisely the same position as the large, institutional client in terms of disclosure and knowledge."

Also joining in the announcement, were Chief Executive Officer of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System Jack Ehnes and Board Member of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System Rob Feckner. 

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