Toyota investors urged to vote against founding family chairman Akio Toyoda

  • Akio Toyoda has long been the face of Toyota, which he led from 2009 until 2023 when he ceded the chief executive officer role to Koji Sato.
Akio Toyoda
Akio Toyoda has long been the face of Toyota, which he led from 2009 until 2023 when he ceded the chief executive officer role to Koji Sato. (REUTERS)
Akio Toyoda
Akio Toyoda has long been the face of Toyota, which he led from 2009 until 2023 when he ceded the chief executive officer role to Koji Sato.

Toyota Motor Corp.’s proposal to reelect Chairman Akio Toyoda to its board is coming under pressure from two leading proxy advisory firms, which urged shareholders of the world’s largest carmaker to vote against the founding family scion.

Institutional Shareholder Services Inc., which advises large investors, recommended on Tuesday withholding support for Toyoda, citing improper vehicle testing by subsidiary Daihatsu Motor and regulatory violations by Toyota group affiliates Hino Motors Ltd. and Toyota Industries Corp.

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“In consideration of the current situation where a spate of certification irregularities occurred in the Toyota Motor group, shareholders are advised to vote against Chairman Akio Toyoda," ISS said in a report.

Proxy adviser Glass Lewis & Co. also recommended a no vote for the chairman for a second year in a row, citing what it said was his responsibility for an insufficiently independent board, among other issues. It also urged shareholders to withhold support for the proposed reelection of Shigeru Hayakawa, Toyota’s vice chairman.

Toyoda has long been the face of the company, which he led from 2009 until 2023 when he ceded the chief executive officer role to Koji Sato. The current chair is the grandson of company founder Kiichiro Toyoda and the son of former chairman and president Shoichiro Toyoda. In recent years, Toyoda has faced criticism for championing the Japanese automaker’s “multi-pathway" approach to vehicle electrification, which is less aggressive than many of its global peers.

The recommendations come ahead of Toyota’s annual shareholders meeting scheduled for June 18 at its headquarters in Toyota City, Japan. Last year, Toyoda won reelection with 85% of the vote, down from 96% in 2022 and the lowest since at least 2010.

Corporate shareholder meetings in Japan have long been pro forma affairs, with company-backed directors winning solid majorities more often than not.

First Published Date: 30 May 2024, 08:01 AM IST
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