GES Newsletter
March 6, 2015

In 2014, GES continued to promote the importance of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues with companies worldwide, using a variety of engagement approaches focused on business conduct, emerging markets or stewardship and risk themes. Such structured engagement solutions assisted GES’ clients in taking efficient investment decisions and reinforced GES’ position as a leader in engagement services.

During 2014, GES engaged on 110 cases that could be associated with violations of international norms and conventions. 147 meetings were held with companies on these cases, including 90 conference calls and 57 face-to-face meetings. In total, GES was in contact with companies 1900 times through emails, conference calls and meetings.

Within risk driven engagement, GES visited 74 companies in emerging markets as diverse as Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, India, Russia, Hong Kong, Mainland China, Thailand, and the Philippines. These onsite visits were supplemented with more than 40 conference calls. Among other field experiences the engagement brought GES 1250 metre underground in a South African platinum mine.

GES’ engagement on corporate governance issues contributed to over 20 meetings and trips with companies worldwide on topics such as board leadership, directors’ time commitments, executive remuneration, transparency and financial regulation. This helped to inform our voting advice to clients at a number of general meetings where related proposals appeared on the agenda.

A number of engagement trips were also arranged in connection to GES’ business conduct engagement, with some of the highlights including a trip to Southeast Asia, onsite visits to a silver mine in Guatemala as well as a hydropower dam in Panama. In November, as part of the Burma Engagement, GES together with a group of clients travelled to Burma (Myanmar), engaging with companies from oil & gas and telecommunication sectors, as well as with companies operating in the Thilawa Special Economic Zone outside Yangon. The group also had meetings with various non-corporate stakeholders during the trip.

Furthermore, selected responsible investment topics were championed by GES in a number of well-attended events. A roundtable on solutions to child labour in the cocoa supply chain was organised in Copenhagen in October, and attracted participants from both the cocoa industry and investors. In addition, a report that GES co-authored with Global Child Forum on children’s rights from the investor perspective was launched at the Global Child Forum’s annual event at the Royal Palace in Stockholm. GES also held several webinars, thereby drawing attention to responsible investments in government bonds, for example.

Hanna Roberts, Engagement Director at GES, commented:

“2014 was an exciting year for engagement, with a larger number of engagements than any previous year. We are equally excited for 2015 where new themes such as taxation and carbon risk are being developed. Our interactions with clients are a crucial part of the engagement process and we always invite active institutional investors to join our engagement meetings and field trips. In 2015 we aim to visit Western Sahara, have a deeper look into a cocoa plantation in South America, as well as meet with companies in Europe, Asia and Africa.“

For further information, please contact:
Hanna Roberts, Engagement Director