Pension Plan Acquires Proxy Advisor

October 5, 2007 ( - The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan has purchased San Francisco investment research firm Glass Lewis & Co. for $46 million.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Glass Lewis, which advises institutional investors on proxy voting regarding corporate governance matters such as takeover provisions and executive pay, spent a troubled 10 months owned by Xinhua Finance Ltd., a Shanghai financial-news media company.  

This spring, Glass Lewis lost two highly respected executives who contended that the Chinese firm may have fallen short of good corporate governance by possibly withholding unfavorable information when it went public in the United States in March.

Independence Claims

Glass Lewis’ new owner, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, is a subscriber to its services. But Glass Lewis Chief Executive Officer Katherine Rabin said the firm will remain independent and the Toronto pension plan will have no role in day-to-day operations.  “We’re an independent company,” Rabin said in a report by the Associated Press. “We were independent when we were owned by Xinhua Finance. The stories regarding Xinhua Finance didn’t have a material impact on our business. … But were there concerns about our independence? Yes. Does this alleviate those concerns? Absolutely.”

She said Glass Lewis, the second-largest proxy adviser in the world, is expected to expand its global reach and to thrive under an owner outside the public markets.

“Corporate governance has always been an important issue for institutional investors like Teachers’,” said Brian Gibson, Senior Vice-President, Public Equities, Teachers’, in a  press release . “The investment in Glass Lewis ensures that investors will have an impartial, expert source of information on corporate governance, accounting and legal issues at public companies for years to come.”