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Frankfurt-based index provider Solactive backs UK proxy voting firm

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Frankfurt-based index provider Solactive has made a “significant strategic” investment in Minerva Analytics, a UK proxy voting firm. 

According to Minerva, Solactive made the investment “to support the development of a Europe-based global shareholder voting and stewardship service”.

“At this time of increased regulatory and asset owner scrutiny on shareholder voting and stewardship, we are confident that Solactive will be a strong and trusted partner and we are looking forward to the next stage in Minerva’s development,” it added.

No further details about Solactive’s investment were provided. 

The deal comes shortly before the deadline for EU member states to transpose the revised Shareholder Rights Directive (SRD II), which aims to promote engagement by introducing new reporting requirements for institutional investors. The EU legislation has also introduced new requirements for proxy advisers.

Solactive said SRD II and other “regulatory shifts” were increasing demand for “customised sustainable stewardship strategies”.

According to the text of Solactive’s announcement, Minerva planned to expand its research and client service capability through Solactive’s offices in Frankfurt, Hong Kong and Toronto. It would also broaden its product offering by taking advantage of the German firm’s expertise in natural language processing.

Minerva said the founder and CEO of Solactive, Steffen Scheuble, and his chief of staff, Roger-Marc Noirot, were to join the company’s board as non-executive directors. A worker director from Minerva’s team would also be appointed to the main board and an independent stakeholder advisory board would also be created, it said. 

Scheuble said the investment in Minerva was “an important step for us in ensuring that we stay relevant to the entire asset management ecosystem”.

Sarah Wilson, chief executive of Minerva and co-founder of its predecessor firm Manifest, said Minerva was “delighted to become part of the Solactive group of companies”. 

Incorporated last March and based in Essex, eastern England, Minerva was the result of a management buyout of Manifest by Wilson and co-founder and IT director Tim Clarke. In addition to providing a shareholder voting platform, it also provides data and research on voting results, corporate governance, remuneration and sustainability.

As at January, around $200bn (€176bn) was invested in products linked to indices calculated by Solactive.

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