French giant to launch long-term investment club for world’s biggest funds

CDC cites Norwegian and Canadian funds as potential members.

France’s €221bn Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC), the state-owned bank, is working to build a club of the world’s largest investors, including sovereign wealth funds, to discuss long-term investment issues. Augustin de Romanet, director general of CDC and president of the board of FRR, the €34bn French pensions reserve fund, said he hoped the group would include investors such as the €250bn Norwegian Government Pension Fund and Canada’s largest institutional investor, the 155,4 C$ (€97bn) Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.
De Romanet said he expected the club to be up and running by the start of 2009 to discuss issues such as investor transparency as well as the expectations and potential of long-term investors.
The club could have serious influence amongst global politicians on long-term investment issues due to the proposed size of its members and the calibre of its proponents.
De Romanet was a cabinet adviser to former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin and held other senior government positions. CDC is closely allied to French state policy and invests in public interest and development projects.It was a founding supporter of the UN Principles for Responsible Investment and incorporates environmental, social and governance into much of its investment decisions as well as investing in carbon markets and renewable energy projects.
As one of France’s largest property investors, it has also taken a lead in the United Nations Environmental Programme for sustainable real estate investment.
The question of how institutional investors can put long-term investment goals at the heart of what they do has been a thorny topic for many years. Investors have been accused of focusing on short-term returns rather than financing longer-term profitable projects, particularly those that could help combat climate change.
The Marathon Club, a group of 18 UK institutions has worked for several years on formulating proposals for pension funds, endowments and other institutional investors to be more long- term in their thinking and actions and place more emphasis on being responsible and active owners. The club is understood to be supported in its goals by the UK government.