Swedish environmental, social and governance (ESG) advisory firm GES Investment Services and UK-based proxy firm Manifest Information Services have announced a new strategic partnership.
The tie-up brings together GES’s ESG research and Manifest’s global proxy voting services, which they say presents “a fully-fledged European solution for Responsible Investment”.
Manifest will integrate GES’s incident watch and risk ratings into its voting recommendations so that investors can create custom ESG voting guidelines. GES will get access to Manifest’s governance data and proxy voting systems.
“We’ll be rolling this out for the next proxy season,” said Manifest CEO Sarah Wilson. She added: “Informed Stewardship is now firmly on the agenda and our partnership offers investors a holistic solution to meet the challenges that high quality engagement bring.”
The move comes as the ESG market is consolidating and ahead of the launch of an engagement service by ESG consulting firm Eiris next week.Josefine Ekros, Senior Research Analyst at GES, characterised the agreement as a “preferred partnership” arrangement. She said the deal reflects demand from both companies’ clients and would enable GES to build on its existing “small scale” proxy voting service.
GES, headed by Managing Director Magnus Furugård, already partners with the likes of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, NASDAQ OMX and the Sustainable Investment Research Institute.
Wilson told Responsible-Investor.com that GES clients have been asking about proxy voting and Manifest’s clients were looking for the integration of the “E and S with the G” of ESG. Both Ekros and Wilson stressed this is not a merger or the prelude to one.
GES was formed in 2002 and its clients run an estimated €650bn of assets. Manifest – which already has a partnership with US-based Proxy Governance – has a client base with assets of more than £3trn.
Both firms are signatories to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.