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PRI announces ABP trustee as chair of new asset owner advisory board

Xander den Uyl, trustee at Europe’s largest pension fund ABP, has been named chairman of the newly formed asset owner advisory board of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).

Alongside den Uyl, European representatives on the board include Anders Thorendal, CIO of the Church of Sweden’s pension fund; Faith Ward, chief responsible investment and risk officer at the UK’s Environment Agency Pension Fund; and Mark Walker, CIO of Univest, the asset manager for Unilever’s pension funds.

Canvassing support for his election to the board, den Uyl said one of the PRI’s key challenges would be to “remain relevant for an increasingly wide range of investors, investment styles and cultures”.

He is a former vice-president of ABP, the €345bn Dutch fund for civil servants, and oversaw the development of a responsible investment policy adopted in 2007.

The 16-strong board currently has 14 members, with two vacancies remaining for asset owners from emerging markets.

Full list of current board members

  • Chris Ailman, CIO, California State Teachers’ Retirement System (US)
  • Sharon Alpert, chief executive, Nathan Cummings Foundation (US)
  • Jagdeep Singh Bachher and Amy Myers Jaffe, office of the CIO, University of California (US)
  • Yvonne Bakkum, director investment management, FMO (The Netherlands)
  • James Davis, CIO, OPTrust (Canada)
  • Marie Giguère, executive committee member, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (Canada)
  • Hiromichi Mizuno, CIO, Government Pension Investment Fund (Japan)
  • Jay Ralph, chairman, Allianz Asset Management (Germany)
  • Ian Silk, chief executive, AustralianSuper (Australia)
  • Daniel Simard, chief executive, Bâtirente (Canada)
  • Anders Thorendal, CIO, Church of Sweden (Sweden)
  • Xander den Uyl (chair), trustee, ABP (The Netherlands)
  • Mark Walker, CIO, Univest (The Netherlands)
  • Faith Ward, chief responsible investment and risk officer, Environment Agency Pension Fund (UK)

It will spend its time advising the PRI on its asset owner insight work, which covers the appointment of managers, investment policy and strategy, as well as the role of responsible investment within passive strategies.

The creation of the advisory board sees the UN-backed initiative fulfil its pledge to increase asset owner representation, a sensitive matter for an organisation where the approximately 300 asset owner signatories risk being overshadowed by 1,156 asset manager and other professional service partners.

In its business plan for 2015-18, the PRI pledged to increase asset owner representation and participation, including setting itself recruitment targets for asset owners by region.

The board’s launch comes after the organisation hinted it would hold to account signatories failing to comply with its principles.

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