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Facebook shareholders back proposal to remove Mark Zuckerberg as chairman

FILE - Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg gestures and delivers his speech during the VivaTech (Viva Technology) trade fair in Paris, on May 24, 2018.
FILE - Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg gestures and delivers his speech during the VivaTech (Viva Technology) trade fair in Paris, on May 24, 2018. ELIOT BLONDET/ABACAPRESS.COM

Several public funds that hold shares in Facebook Inc on Wednesday backed a proposal to remove Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg as chairman, saying the social media giant mishandled several high-profile scandals.

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State treasurers from Illinois, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, and New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, co-filed the proposal. They joined hedge fund Trillium Asset Management, which bought it to the table in June.

The proposal, set to be voted on at Facebook’s annual shareholder meeting in May 2019, is asking the board to make the role of chair an independent position.

“Facebook plays an outsized role in our society and our economy. They have a social and financial responsibility to be transparent – that’s why we’re demanding independence and accountability in the company’s boardroom,” Stringer said.

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Facebook declined to comment.

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In 2017, a similar proposal to appoint an independent chair was voted down.

In opposing the proposal, Facebook said an independent chair could “cause uncertainty, confusion, and inefficiency in board and management function and relations.”

READ MORE: Facebook stock plunges, Zuckerberg’s net worth down nearly US$19 billion

Zuckerberg has about 60 per cent voting rights, according to a company filing in April.

The New York City Pension Funds owned about 4.5 million Facebook shares as of July 31, while Trillium held 53,000 shares.

The Pennsylvania Treasury held 38,737 shares and the Illinois Treasury owned 190,712 shares as of August.

Shares held by the Rhode Island Treasury were not immediately available.