The brief company profile of KPN is a joint initiative of SOMO (Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations) and the VBDO (Vereniging van Beleggers voor Duurzame Ontwikkeling). The paper “KPN – Overview of controversial business practices in 2009” aims to provide an overview of business practices that may be considered unsustainable, irresponsible, or controversial and that took place or were addressed in 2009.

In the context of the upcoming annual general meetings (AGMs) of shareholders of Dutch corporations, the overview provides additional information to KPN’s shareholders and other stakeholders on potentially controversial issues that may or may not be detected or reported by the company itself. By highlighting such issues, the overview can be used to identify areas of the company’s corporate responsibility policies and practices that need improvement and to formulate a more informed assessment of a company’s corporate responsibility performance.

At the occasion of the KPN 2010 annual shareholders meeting, and based on the SOMO research, the VBDO has provided its members a voting advice.

Every year the VBDO visits the General Assembly of Shareholders of the ten largest Dutch stock exchanged listed companies from the AEX index and the Midkap. During the shareholders’ meetings VBDO asks critical questions about the companies’ sustainable policy (which they have followed), and votes according to the VBDO Sustainable Voting Policy.

This voting advice focuses on various agenda points of the shareholders’ meetings, and since 2007 also on the agenda point ‘discharge of directors’. For this agenda point, the company asks its shareholders for approval of the policy implemented by the Board of Directors and the supervision implemented by the Supervisory Board. After approval, directors can no longer be held liable for the policy implemented, and are then discharged.

When there are serious abuses in economic, environmental and/or social areas the VBDO advises in many cases that no discharge be granted to the directors of companies which implement policies that can be directly associated with these abuses. In other words, directors of companies who are not implementing corporate social responsibility can be held liable for this.