While August is the time when mutual fund companies file their proxy votes with the Securities and Exchange Commission, it's still too early to tell how they stack up on defending shareholders' interests against those of company management, because not all fund companies have filed these reports yet.

But so far, one company that ranks as one of the biggest defenders of shareholders is Putnam Investments, The New York Times reports. After analyzing the firm's votes at 1,150 annual meetings this past year, the company's independent trustees found that Putnam voted against electing directors 16% of the time and against stock option proposals for company executives or directors 64% of the time.

The company's criteria on the stock options issue is that if issuing additional stock or restricted shares would increase the total issuance by more than 1.67%, it will vote it down. It's a far lower benchmark than many other fund companies, such as Fidelity, which has a 10% benchmark.

"The trustees are dedicated to promoting strong corporate governance practices and responsible corporate action at companies in which the Putnam Funds invest," said John Hill, who heads up the company's independent trustees.

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