Institutional investors call on carmakers to come clean on lobbying
Sweden’s AP funds and the UK’s Environment Agency Pension Fund (EAPF) have called on some of the world’s largest car manufacturers to disclose any lobbying undertaken over forthcoming emissions legislation.
Coming in the wake of Volkswagen’s admission it used software to beat emissions tests, institutional investors worth £625bn (€842bn) wrote to nine automobile companies – including Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler – asking for the disclosures.
Catherine Howarth, whose responsible investment charity ShareAction coordinated the letter, said she was pleased her organisation was helping investors acquire “risk-relevant” information on manufacturers’ relationships with regulators and politicians.
“The share price carnage brought on by the defeat-devices scandal has focused the minds of shareholders of automobile firms,” she said.
VW’s share price has fallen by 32.6% since the US Environmental Protection Agency raised questions about how its diesel engines behaved during emissions testing.
The letter – signed by AP2, AP3, AP4 and AP7, as well as the EAPF, Finland’s Ilmarinen and AXA Investment Managers – calls on the nine companies to disclose their position on EU legislation on CO2 and the US Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) regulations.
Volkswagen, BMW, Honda, Daimler, General Motors, Ford, Fiat, Peugeot and Toyota have also been asked to disclose their contributions to industry associations, and detail work undertaken with the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (EAMA), which ShareAction alleges was “obstructing” the EU legislation.
The letter follows similar efforts by ShareAction for fossil fuel companies to be more transparent on lobbying done on their behalf by oil and gas industry groups.
A separate letter has been sent to Nissan and Renault, whose chief executive Carlos Ghosn is currently chair of EAMA, asking for him to engage with investors.
In the wake of the Volkswagen scandal, third-party litigation funder Bentham Europe said it was in discussions with institutional investors to bring a lawsuit against the German car firm.