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Kennedy Thompson

Passive fund manager Vanguard turns activist in some board votes

Fund manager Vanguard Group Inc opposed the election of board members in a number of high-profile proxy contests this year, votes that help explain why directors at firms such as Hewlett-Packard Co and Occidental Petroleum Corp had a hard time getting re-elected.While Vanguard continued to support the vast majority of directors, its votes come at a time when institutional investors, which in the past often followed management's wishes or outsourced proxy voting responsibilities, are increasingly exercising more influence.In the 2013 proxy season, funds run by the $2.3 trillion investment company opposed five of seven directors targeted by the AFL-CIO labor federation, according to recent filings to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The labor group had opposed six directors at other companies between 2010 and 2012 as well, but Pennsylvania-based Vanguard backed the directors in those contests.Vanguard also switched sides at several other contested shareholder meetings flagged...

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