Pension fund urges vote against Wal-Mart directors

New York City Pension Funds is urging shareholders to vote against the re-election of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. CEO Mike Duke and four other board members due to concerns about the world's largest retailer's bribery investigation in Mexico.

The pension group owns 5.6 million shares of Wal-Mart, which has more than 3.4 billion shares outstanding.

In a letter to shareholders on Wednesday, the fund says shareholders should vote against Duke, H. Lee Scott Jr., Arne M. Sorenson, S. Robson Walton and Christopher J. Williams during the company's annual meeting on June 1.

In late April, The New York Times reported Wal-Mart allegedly covered up results of an internal probe that showed its Mexican subsidiary bribed officials there.

The fund says it has concerns with the board's independence. In particular, it said Sorenson is not independent since he is CEO of Marriott International, which has a vendor relationship with Wal-Mart.

In addition, the fund says CEO Duke and H. Lee Scott Jr., who was CEO until 2009, did not act in the best interest of shareholders.

Wal-Mart says its directors and committees satisfy all New York Stock Exchange independent standards and other requirements.

Wal-Mart shares fell 7 cents to $58.94 in midday trading Thursday. They have traded in a range of $48.31 and $62.63 over the past year.