While leaders in other industries are incorporating changes to improve better shareholder participation in managerial decisions, the shareholders’ meeting held Wednesday by Mizuho Financial Group, Inc. indicates change is slow to come to the banking sector.
The nation’s largest banking group seated male bankers with loud voices in the front two rows of a hall in the Tokyo International Forum in Chiyoda Ward. Hearty applause and cheers met Mizuho Financial Group President Terunobu Maeda’s witticisms and management proposals, while shareholders’ proposals were shouted down.
The bank for the first time announced gross compensation paid to board members, which came to 189 million yen — which averages 17.2 million yen per board member — for the business year that ended March 31, but refused to approve shareholders’ demands that it disclose payments to individual directors.
At the beginning of the meeting, Maeda apologized for the banking group’s failure to make dividend payments on common stock. The group posted a record net loss of 2.38 trillion yen for the last business year.
“I hope to make this a year in which we can begin seeing results,” Maeda said.
But the meeting, which lasted more than three hours, failed to placate the 1,744 disgruntled shareholders who attended.
Mizuho Financial Group prices on the TSE have been at levels “unthinkable for a bank that represents Japan’s banking sector,” according to a shareholder who bought six shares in January.
Mizuho shares closed Wednesday at 91,200 yen, down 2.15 percent from the previous day.
Shareholders saw prices plunge in February and March as the banking group issued new shares to raise an unprecedented 1 trillion yen from business partners. Some analysts charge that life insurance companies sold previously held Mizuho stocks to contribute to Mizuho’s fundraising bid.
“These share price falls just for the convenience of bank management constitute nothing more than breach of trust,” one shareholder said.
Another said, “We want more concrete answers, not just vague promises.”
“I bought stock from Fuji Bank at four times what it is now,” said Junko Kanai of Suginami Ward, Tokyo. “It’s irresponsible that banks should continue to lend to companies that have defaulted on a part of their loans, when I have to pay back every last cent of my loans to the bank.”
It was the first time that Mizuho allowed journalists to view management’s statements, albeit via a monitor.
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