Vontobel engages Hermes for proxy voting services

Vontobel Group has engaged Hermes Equity Ownership Services to provide proxy voting and engagement services, as the willingness of European asset managers to engage with companies over business practices and points of principle gathers momentum.

The Swiss private bank group, with about CHF119bn under management, is using Hermes EOS to guide voting of its Global Responsibility and Global Trend equity funds.

Vontobel’s Global Trend funds focus on major trends such as future resources, new power and clean technology.

Sabine Döbeli, Vontobel’s head of sustainability management, said: “As a signatory of the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment we have committed ourselves to being a responsible investor.”

Steve Triantafilidis, head of global equities, added it was “a logical step” to continue developing a systematic and effective voting and engagement process.

Vontobel will vote shares and engage with selected companies in which its Global Responsibility and Global Trend equity funds invest, in line with Vontobel’s sustainable development philosophy.

Hermes EOS already represents 22 investors with over €80bn assets under stewardship, including of the BT pension fund in the UK, and it guides voting on over 7,000 companies worldwide.

Vontobel brings more assets to its program, including €53m in Germany, which is sizing up to be a key centre for engagement this year.

Other investors such as F&C, DWS Investments, and Allianz Global Investors join Hermes in making their thoughts known to managers of German companies.

George Dallas, F&C’s director for corporate governance, says well- and poorly governed companies can be found in all countries in Europe, and F&C pursues corporate governance issues as robustly in countries such as Germany, France and Italy.

David Walker

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