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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Rock the Vote...or Else

Reported by Theresa Sim

With the new SEC rule requiring fund companies to disclose their proxy votes for the 12-month period ended June 30, 2004 mere days away, industry watchers and those in the industry are speculating on the effect of the rule.

While some believe that the information will not have a huge impact on the way funds vote, at least one powerful organization plans to use the information precisely to impact fund voting, reported Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

The AFL-CIO will examine votes that are not consistent with a fund's voting guidelines and not in the best interest of shareholders, reported the WSJ.

The labor group will put together reports that expose "conflict-ridden" votes, reported the WSJ.

An AFL-CIO did not immediately return a call seeking more information on how voting records would be scrutinized.

In a December 2002 letter to the SEC regarding the proposal, the AFL-CIO argued that funds' large holdings have the potential to influence companies, and that voting disclosure could improve misalignments between manager and shareholder interests.

***

T. Rowe Price has already rolled out a website where investors can look up voting records by funds. It also provided an explanation of its voting procedures online. 

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