Chris Hohn climate vote target Aena hires Ernst & Young as ESG consultant

State-owned Spanish airport operator was target of successful climate vote campaign by TCI hedge fund last year

Spain’s majority state-owned airport firm Aena, which was the target of pioneering – and  successful – climate vote campaign by activist investor Sir Chris Hohn last year, has hired Ernst & Young (EY) as an ESG consultant.

In October, Aena, which is 51% owned by the Spanish government via a public entity called Enaire, was the first company to agree to an annual shareholder vote on its climate plans, following a campaign waged by Hohn’s hedge fund the Children’s Investment fund (TCI).

Today, Aena also announced that it has appointed EY as its ESG consultant, following a tender process that began in November 2019 – around the time TCI began its year-long campaign at the Madrid-based company.

When asked if TCI was engaging with Aena at the time the contract was put out and if it had asked the firm to take on such expertise, Angus Milne, TCI’s Director, Risk & Compliance told RI that the fund had been a “substantial shareholder in Aena since its flotation in 2015” and has “regularly engaged with management throughout the period since then”. 

TCI, which manages around $30bn (€24bn), is a major shareholder in Aena with a 3.86% (as of July). Hohn also sits on the board of the firm. 

In July, Hohn raised concerns about Aena’s climate strategy with Spain’s Minister for the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera, warning in a letter that the company’s plan fails to align with the Paris Agreement and the Spanish Government’s Declaration of Environmental Emergency.

EY, which saw off two other bidders for the Aena contract, has been hired to provide “ESG (Environmental, Social, Government [sic]) information management service and communication with non-financial analysts”, according to the award document. 

The contract, which is worth €82,000 ($99,000), runs for a year with the option to extend that twice, according to the original tender

Since his success at Aena, Hohn has also secured a ‘Say on Climate’ vote at financial services giant Moody’s. 

Moody’s Corporation – which is a majority owner of ESG research house Vigeo Eiris – said it affirmed the principles of the campaign following a resolution filed in November; the move makes it the first S&P 500 company to do so.

‘Say on Climate’ proposals have now been filed at oil & gas giants Woodside and Santos in Australia and at Alphabet, Charter Communications and S&P Global in the US.  

The ‘Say on Climate’ initiative is led by Hohn’s TCI and its independent philanthropic arm, The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (UK), with support from civil society groups ShareAction and CDP and the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum.