Investor groups team up on Web-based push

WASHINGTON: The Social Investment Forum (SIF) and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) have united to launch a Web-based campaign to fight proposals being considered by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC).

WASHINGTON: The Social Investment Forum (SIF) and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) have united to launch a Web-based campaign to fight proposals being considered by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC).

The groups say the proposals would limit shareholder ability to nominate directors and would replace the Shareholder resolution process with an electronic petition system.

SaveShareholderRights.org aims to gather 500 signatures from institutions on an opposition statement, while allowing individuals to write letters to the SEC. They're also encouraging investors to write Congress, and they are contacting companies about the initiative.

The SIF is a 500-member group that includes financial planners, mutual fund companies, and universities. The ICCR is a coalition of about 300 faith-based institutional investors, who invest with their religious values in mind. The ICCR represents over $100 billion in investments.

Although the effort is spearheaded by these two organizations, the implications of the proposals touch investors of all stripes.

"Investors from many backgrounds are alarmed by these SEC proposals," said Tim Smith, board chair of the SIF and SVP of Walden Asset Management. "This is a broad-based effort with a cross-section of investors who feel their rights are being potentially trampled on."

Comments will be accepted by the SEC until October 2, when SEC chairman Christopher Cox will review them. The campaign will continue the conversation with the SEC and members of Congress while the proposals are under consideration.

The Hastings Group is the AOR for the SIF. It began the initiative on July 24 with a phone-based news conference. Media placements included the AP, Dow Jones, and Investment Week. A second conference on August 29 also got hits in Portfolio, The Wall Street Journal, and other news outlets.

A final decision could come as soon as a month after the comments deadline. The SIF and the ICRR are hoping the decision will be delayed until 2008 when a full panel of commissioners can consider the proposals.

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