German Pensionskassen and asset managers have expressed interest in joining the collaborative engagement platform of the Sustainable Finance Beirat, the body advising the government on the sustainable finance strategy.

So far, potential members interested in joining the upcoming GEPSI – German Engagement Platform for Sustainable Investment – are asset managers, Pensionskassen, foundations, church institutions, and public investors, the chair of the sustainable finance advisory committee Silke Stremlau told IPE.

“The topics [of engagement] are then defined by the future members. They will certainly relate to climate targets, transition plans, supply chain issues and human rights due diligence,” Stremlau added.

Investors and asset managers were waiting for the financial supervisory authority BaFin to clarify the legal issues and grey areas surrounding “acting in concert”, which are now starting to be addressed by the platform.

BaFin had already given the green light to the collaborative engagement platform for asset owners and asset managers of the sustainable finance advisory committee.

Last week, the regulator published an article in its monthly magazine BaFin Journal on collaborative engagement and shareholders’ voting rights. It said a definition of “acting in concert” must be decided upon to enable shareholders to achieve a lasting and significant change in a company’s goals and strategic direction.

As an example, BaFin said “acting in concert” could relate to actions agreed by investors on a specific resolution at annual general meetings, demanding for example ambitious climate targets through a reduction in CO2 emissions.

Silke Stremlau at Hannoversche Kassen

Silke Stremlau

It also praised the operations of collaborative engagement platforms in Europe, such as Ethos in Switzerland, Eumedion in the Netherlands, the Investor Forum in the UK, and Assogestioni in Italy.

The sustainable advisory committee welcomed BaFin’s analysis, adding that uncertainties and ambiguities remain.

There are, for instance, outstanding questions about the escalation plans (of investors) and when they should be evaluated.

”So we would like to see more exchanges with BaFin on this,” Stremlau added.

It is important however that BaFin has for the first time taken a position on collaborative engagement on sustainability issues, she said.

A spokesperson for BaFin told IPE that the regulator has only commented in the published article on cases relating to the laws on the notification and attribution of voting rights, and companies’ acquisitions, adding that collaborative engagement can take many forms.

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