GERMANY - A church pension fund has become one of the first clients to sign on with Union Investment for its new shareholder engagement service.

Union Investment has now officially launched its shareholder engagement service 'UniEngagement' for institutional investors.

The first two clients are the church supplementary pension schemes in the province of North Rheine-Westfalia (KZVK) and the Bank for Church and Diakonie (KD-Bank).

Union Investment said its 'UniEngagement' service was not limited to holdings in its own funds and could be used with third-party investments or direct shareholdings.

The service covers both equity and bond holdings in mutual funds, Spezialfonds and segregated mandates and includes public shareholder engagement and non-public talks with companies.

Achim Philippus, managing director, also pointed out that Union Investment was not only active in the German market, but internationally.

He added that Union's proxy voting policy had been set up in accordance with the UNPRI, of which the company is a signatory.

According to Philippus, Union's new service will allow shareholders to "join forces" and gain more weight in the voting process.