Inrate CEO Leu takes helm at newly acquired proxy firm zRating

Philipp Leu takes reins from departing zRating executive Michael Otte

Philipp Leu, who took over as chief executive of Swiss ESG (environmental, social and governance) research firm Inrate in January, has been given the additional task of overseeing the business of zRating, the Swiss proxy firm that Inrate acquired a year ago. The move was announced in zRating’s latest report on Swiss corporate governance.

Inrate said Leu has been put in charge zRating’s daily operations following the departure of Michael Otte. Otte worked for five years at zRating as a director.

Along with zRating founder Gregor Greber, he helped establish the firm in the Swiss market, where Geneva-based Ethos is market leader.

In May 2014, Inrate acquired zRating and offered Greber a seat on its board. He continued at zRating as Executive Chairman, with Otte as his number two. But shortly after the appointment of Leu as Inrate’s new CEO in January, Greber ceded responsibility for zRating’s daily operations to Otte.

Now that Otte has left, Inrate said: “We thank Michael Otte for his excellent work and his service in these last five years.” No further details were given.Inrate said: “Philippe Leu is recognised as an expert on corporate governance at Swiss firms. For many years, he worked at the SIX Exchange (Switzerland’s bourse) as Head of Financial Reporting.” As Leu takes over, zRating says it has 50 clients, including pension funds.

Otte’s departure coincided with zRating’s latest report on Swiss governance, which reflected that more than 60% of shareholders in listed firms now attended the firms’ annual general meetings (AGMs).

This is up from 52% in 2010, and zRating attributed the increase in part to the so-called Minder initiative against excessive executive pay. Under Minder, which came into force last year, Swiss pension schemes are required to vote shares they hold directly.

zRating also published a ranking of what it believes to be Switzerland’s best and worst governed firms. Topping this year’s list were Forbo, a manufacturer of building materials, and Geberit, a maker of sanitary equipment. Near to the bottom of zRating’s list were chocolatier Lindt & Sprüngli (162 out of 165 firms) and watchmaker Swatch (158). zRating looks at criteria such as “one share, one vote”, reporting transparency, chairman-CEO split and Minder implementation.