Nonprofit shareholder activism organisation Just Share on October 26 said petrochemicals company Sasol had refused to table the sixth shareholder-proposed resolution filed with the company in five consecutive years.
The organization said it believes Sasol’s refusal to table such resolutions seems to indicate that it wishes to “prevent its shareholders from having an opportunity to vote on any resolutions other than those tabled by Sasol itself”.
“This is not only contrary to South African law, but also contrary to the position of hundreds of other listed companies across the globe, including dozens of fossil fuel companies, which every year put shareholder-proposed resolutions on their ballots,” Just Share stated.
“It is difficult to understand why Sasol continues to resist tabling shareholder-proposed resolutions that would allow shareholders to vote on improved disclosure, particularly when such resolutions are not only nonbinding, but make requests for information that Sasol says it is already planning to provide,” the organisation added.
It said that this approach was also at odds with the company’s claim, in its updated emission reduction plan as released at its Capital Markets Day last month, during which Sasol recognised that “sound partnerships with [its] stakeholders are critical to the success of Sasol’s decarbonisation drive, which is central to the strategy and future of the company”.
At a time of increasing global awareness of the unprecedented scale and speed of change required to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, and of the dangerous effects of corporate lobbying against climate action, Just Share added that “transparency and good governance from the world’s biggest polluters are crucial if they are to maintain credibility”.
“This is especially true in Sasol’s case, where the company is asking shareholders to trust in its intentions to decarbonise, even though its earliest decarbonisation “milestone” is only in 2026, and its emission reduction plans are reliant on factors which are highly uncertain, such as the availability and appropriateness of fossil gas, and the commercial viability of green hydrogen,” it commented.
Sasol on October 26 advised Engineering News that it had previously forwarded a response to Aeon Investment Management and Just Share, in which it referred to a nonbinding advisory vote filed earlier this month for tabling at the 2021 annual general meeting (AGM), as well as a second resolution dealing with the same matters, which was filed in September.
In the letter, a copy of which Sasol forwarded to Engineering News, the company said the proposed resolution was declined, as the company's Climate Change Report was published on the same day as the filed resolution and that the report dealt with what the proposal sought.
Additionally, Sasol mentioned that a "constructive meeting" was held towards the end of last month, during which Sasol presented its nonbinding advisory vote on climate change, and elaborated on its decision to table the initial proposal to shareholders.
"It is important that we recognise that sound partnerships with our stakeholders are critical to the success of Sasol's decarbonisation drive, which is central to the strategy and the future of the company," Sasol stressed in its letter.
Additionally, the letter noted that Sasol would "reach out" to Just Share director Robyn Hugo with the objective of "reinforcing appropriate collaboration", which Sasol said would "ensure that, consistent with principles of sound corporate governance, the company's shareholders are not burdened with the micromanagement of any matter impacting the company".
Sasol also reinforced its stance on the company's climate disclosure, reiterating its commitment to assess Hugo's latest request to further enhance disclosures in the Sasol Climate Change Report to be published in 2022.