business news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Boston Globe reports that "the board of the Massachusetts state pension fund, which has $60 million invested in Walmart Stores Inc. stock, voted against the re-election of seven corporate directors at the giant retailer."

Walmart is hosting its annual meeting in Arkansas this week, and is facing dissent from some shareholders. Similar decisions have been announced by the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers' Retirement System.

The moves come in response to an April New York Times story that provided an inside look at Walmart’s Mexico division, suggesting that its fast growth was fueled by bribes, and that top management was more concerned with details not being revealed and investigations not being allowed to move forward than it was with stopping the systematic corruption and adhering to US law that forbids American companies from bribing foreign officials. Both current CEO Mike Duke and former CEO Lee Scott, among other senior executives, were implicated in the story and identified as both knowing about and covering up the bribery.
KC's View:
It is going to be an interesting week down in Arkansas. I suspect that Walmart will do its best to stage manage the issue so that it does not distract from the central messages that it wants to get out there. But it may not be easy ... and the company could find that too much stage management adds to the perception that it is willing to manipulate and cover up the facts.