Influential Facebook shareholders back proposal to remove Zuckerberg as chairman

Facebook CEO and chairman Mark Zuckerberg has about 60 per cent voting power according to a filing

Facebook CEO and chairman Mark Zuckerberg has about 60 per cent voting power according to a filing

Big public investment funds are throwing their weight behind a push to oust Mark Zuckerberg from the helm of Facebook's board.

Four major U.S. public funds - state treasurers from Illinois, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, and New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer - that hold shares in Facebook have proposed removing CEO Mark Zuckerberg as chairman, joining activist and original filer Trillium Asset Management.

"Facebook plays an outsized role in our society and our economy".

The New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, together state treasurers from Illinois, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, and Trillium Asset Management, today announced their support a shareholder initiative to name an independent board chair.

The proposal also outlines the creation of a separate independent board chair in order to deal with the controversies like the ones that have rocked Facebook in the past few years, such as the unauthorized sharing of user information, the proliferation of fake news and alleged foreign meddling in USA elections, which could damage the company's reputation.

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A similar plan previous year was approved by 51 percent of the independent investors, but Zuckerberg controls mass numbers of Class B shares in the company, which have "10 times the voting power of class A shares" owned by the public.

Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs added in the statement: "We need to see more accountability of Mark Zuckerberg to the board of directors to restore investor confidence and protect shareholder value".

A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment on the proposal.

"An independent board chair is essential to moving Facebook forward from this mess, and to reestablish trust with Americans and investors alike", Stringer said in the statement. A report from Reuters disseminated this morning says that four institutional investors in Facebook are looking to have Zuckerberg replaced by an independent chairman. The board did not act on this measure. The company's lead independent director, Susan Desmond-Hellman, who is the chief executive officer of The Gates Foundation, serves as a liaison between Zuckerberg and the independent directors, and represents the interests of all shareholders.

In the statement, they highlighted the fact that 59 per cent of companies on the S&P 1500 separate the roles of the CEO and chairman in order to provide true independent oversight of corporate governance.

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