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PGGM lobbies for Dutch class action law

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The €189bn asset manager PGGM talking to the Dutch justice ministry about the introduction of a class action system in the Netherlands that would allow duped investors to jointly claim damages. 

In its annual report about responsible investment, PGGM – the provider for the €178bn healthcare scheme PFZW – said the initiative was part of its new engagement policy focusing on legislators and important companies.

The adjustment followed a new phase of ESG investing, with an emphasis on societal impact and the financial sector, it explained. PGGM has previously focused on voting and dialogue, as well as integrating ESG factors into the investment process.

Eloy Lindijer, PGGM’s chief investment manager, stressed that measuring the impact of investment on social issues was becoming increasingly important.

Last year, the asset manager replaced British firm F&C as engagement advisor with Sweden’s GES, which specialises on human rights, environmental matters and corruption.

“The services of GES are complementary to PGGM’s, which focuses on strategic subjects within selected themes and countries,” explained a spokesman for PGGM. “Moreover, GES could also work more cost efficient.”

At year-end, PGGM had invested €4.7bn in targets such as sustainable energy against climate change, and water purification in China to combat water shortages.

Its largest client PFZW previously said it wanted to quadruple its investments in key areas, including food security and healthcare, over the next five years.

In 2014, the asset manager excluded two firms from its investment universe because of the manufacturing of “controversial weapons”.

Since then, it also excluded investment in government bonds of the Central African Republic because of violation of human rights. Currently, it has blacklisted 124 companies and 13 countries.

PGGM further said that engagement with 510 companies had resulted in improved governance in 80 cases, and that it had achieved positive results on 21 environmental and 32 social issues.

In order to improve the market standards for financial reporting, the asset manager had linked up with the Investors Financial Reporting Programme of the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB).

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