P&G faces challenge to CEO Moeller as chairman from environmentalists, investors


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P&G faces challenge to CEO Moeller as chairman from environmentalists, investors © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo for Procter & Gamble Co. is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., June 27, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

By Jessica DiNapoli

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Tide detergent maker Procter & Gamble (NYSE:) Co faces a challenge to its Chief Executive Jon Moeller as its chairman of the board from environmental groups at its annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday, with some investors planning to vote against him in that role.

Environmental non-profits including Friends of the Earth and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) urged shareholders to vote against Moeller as chairman and oppose two other board directors because they say P&G has taken “insufficient action” to deal with the risks related to deforestation in its supply chain.

The groups have long targeted P&G for its reliance on virgin wood pulp to make paper products such as Charmin and Bounty.

The groups request replacing Moeller with an independent chair.

The New York State Common Retirement Fund, New York City pension funds and socially responsible investment firm Trillium Asset Management plan to vote against Moeller and the two board directors, Angela Braly and Patricia Woertz, according to representatives of the shareholders and voting bulletins. Braly chairs the governance and public responsibility committee and Woertz is a member of that committee.

Trillium’s chief advocacy officer, Jonas Kron, said in an email that investors have high expectations of P&G and its board after passing a shareholder resolution in 2020 calling for it to issue a report on how it could enhance efforts to end deforestation.

“The board’s actions to date regarding deforestation have been insufficient,” he said.

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund also plans to vote against Moeller, according to a voting notice on its website. In its voting guidelines, the fund says it does not support a CEO also serving as board chair. A spokesperson declined to comment further.

Institutional Shareholder Services Inc and Glass Lewis, firms that make widely-followed recommendations on voting for investors, said shareholders should support Moeller and the two directors.

ISS said investors should take caution when supporting Moeller and the directors because of “ongoing concerns” regarding deforestation.

NRDC last year also asked investors to vote against Braly. She received fewer votes than other directors but all received more than 90% support.

P&G this summer said in an update that it will aim to end buying pulp, a key ingredient in its top-selling Charmin toilet paper, from certain forests in Canada and will develop a plan to reduce purchases of the raw material from other swaths of woodland.

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