Canadian investor in dialogue with Ryanair on ESG disclosure

An “intriguing experience” says NEI Investments

Canadian mutual fund firm NEI Investments has started a dialogue with budget airline Ryanair focusing on the “reputational risks” of Chief Executive Michael O’Leary’s controversial statements on environmental and social issues.

NEI, which has around C$4.7bn (€3.7bn) under management, said in its annual review of the Focus List of companies it engages with that it started engagement with a number of new companies for the first time this year. The report said that Ryanair was “one of the most intriguing experiences”.

Ryanair chief, O’Leary, is known for his controversial comments

NEI said the engagement had developed into a constructive dialogue on environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosure, in which O’Leary took part.The Canadian manager said it had also seen progress on ESG compensation linkages at several companies that it has been talking to, including CN Rail, Encana and Suncor and would continue a “Feedback on Pay” campaign into 2013.

NEI has also responded to the Canadian Securities Administrators’ consultation into the role of proxy advisory firms. It said that although it has some concerns about proxy voting advisors, “we would question whether this is the biggest priority for regulatory reform within the proxy voting system”.

The firm, which is co-owned by the Desjardins Group and the Provincial Credit Union Centrals, said it was more concerned about international voting, long-term voting rights and vote assurance.