Ethos Foundation, which is backed by pension funds, has joined forces with Deutsche Schutzvereinigung für Wertpapierbesitz e.V. (DSW) – a non-profit organisation representing private investors’ interests in Germany and Austria – proxy advisory agencies Frontis Governance in Italy, and Corporance in Spain and Portugal, to conduct research on corporate governance.
Ethos European Network – as the alliance is called – is a platform created for the partners to provide detailed analysis and research on corporate governance and voting recommendations for annual general meetings of the largest listed companies in Europe, it added.
The network will also provide independent consultancy services.
The partners will conduct analysis and research on more than 470 companies in Europe in markets including Germany, Austria, Denmark, Spain, Finland, France, the UK, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland.
Ethos’ chief executive officer Vincent Kaufmann said: “This new partnership will allow us to maintain and guarantee the highest quality of analysis. For the partners, it was mainly a question of formalising our regrouping.”
Jella Benner-Heinacher, chief managing director (deputy) at DSW, added: “[The partnership] is a perfect fit for DSW representing German shareholders in corporate governance activities at general meetings and engagement at almost 700 listed companies.”
This year, Ethos has reviewed its proxy voting guidelines to adapt them to changes in legislation and best practices.
It is considering recent developments in the field of voting on corporate sustainability reports, applying to general meetings of Swiss companies from 2024, and on companies’ climate transition plans (“Say on Climate” vote), it said in the latest guidelines.
Ethos also expects companies and their boards of directors to take sustainability into account in strategic decisions, pondering risks and opportunities, and decisions relating to the composition of a board or its remuneration policy, it added in the guidelines.
Proxy voting guidelines applying to companies in Switzerland take into account the Swiss Code of Best Practice for Corporate Governance of the business lobby economiesuisse, the Corporate Governance Directive (CGD) of the Swiss stock exchange SIX Exchange, and the Swiss code of obligations (CO) valid as of 1 January 2023 including the ordinance against excessive remuneration (ORAb).