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NYC funds urging independent corporate chairmen

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- New York City's public pension funds have pushed this year for independent board chairmen at several U.S. corporations, winning the shareholder vote at Netflix Inc. and obtaining an agreement at Wellpoint Inc.

Arguing that chief executives shouldn't also chair the boards responsible for CEO oversight, the funds proposed similar measures at Aetna, Johnson Controls, Mylan Inc., Urban Outfitters Inc., and JPMorgan Chase & Co., gathering support ranging from 30 percent to 42 percent despite company opposition.

Assistant city comptroller Michael Garland says having top corporate positions held by one individual is an inherent conflict of interest.

He notes shareholder measures are advisory.

At Netflix, Los Gatos, Calif.-based provider of movies and other television content for almost 38 million subscribers, the proposal got 73.4 percent support in June though co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings remained chairman.