Italian pension funds are joining forces to create a platform for shareholder activism with proxy voting agency Frontis Governance.

Approximately 14 pension funds with assets under management of around €27bn are taking part in the project, said Giovanni Maggi, president of Assofondipensione, the pension funds association spearheading the project.

“I hope that will be 20 [pension funds] by the end of the year.” he told IPE, adding that the plan was to start with 10 pension schemes on board. “We are now working to put the project into operation,” he added.

Assofondipensione will define the guidelines with the pension funds to vote at annual general meetings (AGMs) of companies in Italy and abroad.

“The guidelines will define how to vote [at AGMs[, and we will discuss within the association with the pension funds joining the project,” Maggi said, adding that ESG issues are topical, and there will certainly be a focus on those aspects.

Last year, Maggi said that industry-wide pension funds were pushing Assofondipensione to open up discussions on the possibility of exercising voting rights and active ownership at AGMs, with ESG and SRI among the topics on these meetings’ agendas.

The platform set up by Assofindipensione with Frontis Governance would add to the initiative ‘Permanent Working Group on engagement’ by the Italian Sustainable Investment Forum (ItaSIF).

Members of ItaSIF include pension funds Cometa, Perseo Sirio, Pegaso, Previmoda, Previambiente, Previndai, Fondoposte, and Priamo, among others, alongside asset managers and other associations.

Last year, 40 institutional investors under ItaSIF launched a collective engagement initiative with the Italian state, as debt issuer.

Cometa is also continuing to pursue its voting policy to protect workers’ rights in shareholders’ meetings of invested companies.

Last year, the pension scheme spoke up at the AGM of 151 companies, and during 2024 plans to bring its resolutions to the meetings of 200 companies, including 25 Italian companies, to tackle ESG issues, it said.

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