CalPERS, which owns 10 million Applied Materials shares, is withholding it votes in part of its ongoing actions to keep outside auditors independent at companies. PriceWaterhouseCoopers, auditor for Applied Materials, was used for services such as consulting last year, which CalPERS maintains can be a conflict of interest.
The withheld votes will not prevent the election of the four directors at Applied Materials, a manufacturing equipment producer, but CalPERS hopes it continues to send their message about corporate governance boards, following action taken against Walt Disney Co. and Hewlett Packard (see Beleaguered Disney Head Tries to Shore Up Support and CalPERS Withholds HP Board Votes ).
The four audit committee members who are up for election Michael H. Armacost, Deborah A. Coleman, Philip V. Gerdine, and Gerhard H. Parker.
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