Rhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner has successfully resolved a shareholder engagement with Mastercard, following an agreement by the company to significantly increase its public disclosure of lobbying expenses
"As long-term investors in Mastercard we believe that full disclosure of the company's direct and indirect lobbying activities and expenditures will help investors assess whether the Company's lobbying is consistent with its expressed goals and in the best interests of shareholders," said Magaziner.
Last fall, Treasurer Magaziner filed a shareholder proposal with Mastercard requesting that the board of directors annually disclose information regarding payments used for direct or indirect lobbying, including payments to trade associations, as well as disclosing any grassroots lobbying activity.
Investors are increasingly concerned that inadequate lobbying disclosure by publicly-traded companies presents reputational risks. Numerous large companies have angered customers, investors and other stakeholders in recent years when they were revealed to be supporting controversial causes including climate denial and the erosion of consumer protections.
Following investor engagement led by Magaziner, Mastercard (NYSE: MA) has agreed to publish an annual list of its lobbying priorities and amounts spent on lobbying. The company will also publish an annual list of U.S.-based trade associations that receive $25,000 or more from the company.
Additionally, Mastercard will disclose the percentage of those payments used for lobbying and will request information from those trade association regarding the portion of payments used for political contributions or independent expenditures. Mastercard has recently added language on its website confirming that it does not use any corporate resources to mobilize employee grassroots lobbying efforts.
In the autumn of 2018, Treasurer Magaziner also joined Walden Asset Management as a co-filer of similar shareholder proposals with AT&T (NYSE: T) and IBM (NYSE: IBM). Following engagement with concerned investors, both companies agreed to significant additional public disclosure of their respective lobbying practices and procedures. The shareholder proposals were subsequently withdrawn.
The Rhode Island Treasurer's Office commends Mastercard for engaging in a productive dialogue with investors as it reviewed and took steps to strengthen its policies regarding disclosure of its lobbying expenses.
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Contact: Evan England, Director of Communications (401) 222-2240 | (401) 439-2199 (mobile) firstname.lastname@example.org