NETHERLANDS - The opposition of ABP, PGGM, and the Spoorweg (Railways) pension fund to an early merger of Euronext and Deutsche Boerse, proposed yesterday, signals the growing trend of shareholder collaboration, Robeco has claimed.
Erik Breen, Robeco’s head of corporate governance, said the pension funds had voiced opposition to a merger agreement so early in the bidding process, alongside his own firm.
He told Global Pensions the decision to stand against the tabled proposition was a more of a united stand against a decision being taken right now, rather than an outright refusal to accept.
“It’s not opposition against Deutsche Boerse per se, it’s more the fact that we want to keep options open,” he explained.
“The bidding process has begun and as shareholders we will only decide when the final conditions are known, rather than at this stage early in the process.”
Breen described a global trend in which shareholders have become more aware of the advantages of acting with one united voice. He believed companies preferred to hear one clear voice from their investment community.
“We will probably see more and more different groups of shareholders evolving,” he said. “In yesterday’s example, there were two opposing groups; the one that put the proposal on the agenda and the other group who didn’t want to take a decision yet. With increased collaboration, you will also see more confrontation between groups of shareholders.”
But while united action has clear benefits, it was also important that shareholders retained an independent voice, warned Breen.
“In this case we had the support of ABP, PGGM and Spoorweg, and we’ve given them our support on several occasions. But it is not necessarily the case that we will act together or share the same view on all occasions.”
By Lisa Haines
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