SWEDEN - The first four Swedish pension buffer funds have appointed a global voting service provider to assist them with the expansion of their shareholder voting to more specific stocks.

Första AP-fonden, Andra AP-fonden, Tredje AP-fonden and Fjärde AP-fonden (AP1-AP4) have awarded the joint three-year contract to Manifest Information Services Limited, and charged the firm with providing voting services and advice to the four pension funds. (See earlier IPE article: AP1-4 target global voting service for joint project)

The appointment follows an earlier pilot voting project between the four funds in which it voted at the shareholder meetings of 300 foreign companies, on issues such as the environment and social responsibility. (See earlier IPE article: AP2 calculates carbon footprint of portfolio firms)

A statement issued by AP1, which organised the search on behalf of the four funds, revealed "after extensive evaluation of different suppliers and their systems, [the four funds] have decided to award Manifest Information Services Limited the contract".

In particular, the pension buffer funds said it selected Manifest because the firm is seen to offer high-quality analysis, and voting recommendations tailored to the voting policy of "each specific customer", which in this case would be each pension fund.

Other reasons for the appointment of Manifest included the provision of a voting service that "allows for management of the entire voting process - from notification to post event vote reporting - through a single platform".

The pension funds acknowledged that the Manifest tender was also the most economically beneficial system as it also came at the lowest total cost compared with rival tenders.

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