As an active investor, companies are influenced to promote sustainable business and good corporate governance. In this respect, Quoniam works together with Union Investment, which implements our guidelines in contributions and votes at general meetings and in direct dialogue with companies in the interests of our clients.
The engagement approach essentially consists of three phases: in the pre-engagement phase, problem areas in companies are identified that can be addressed through engagement activities. The two levers in the actual engagement phase are the exercise of voting rights and direct dialogue. All votes are published on the Union Investment voting dashboard shortly after the AGM. The most common topics include corporate governance issues, controversial shareholdings, carbon emissions, the switch to renewable energies, diversity, environmental issues and social standards. In the post-commitment process, the results of activities are assessed at regular intervals.
Engagement Report 2020
In 2020, the entire year was dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Virtual AGMs and online events are a major cause of disruption for shareholders. Personal contact with the supervisory board and management, which are the chance to get a first-hand impression of the company, are limited. Therefore, a return to normality would definitely be welcome. Moving events and meetings to online formats makes it possible to actively participate in more shareholder meetings and give speeches. In 2020, Union Investment represented our interests at 28 general meetings.
Achievements in 2020 included Ryanair’s commitment to participate in the Carbon Disclosure Project, Bayer’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2030, and Anglo American’s phasing out of coal by 2023.
Without losing sight of the imminent climate problem, our commitment was directed towards the area of human rights. We wrote to 38 affected companies, including Volkswagen, Siemens and Nike, and asked them how they ensure that the human rights of employees in the region are respected. The first responses have been received and evaluated. The aim of the commitment is firstly to improve the situation of the local people and secondly to minimise risk. Economic activities in a region with serious human–rights violations entail risks of legal action and reputational damage that could potentially harm the company’s share price. This has to be prevented through consistent engagement.