PensionDanmark rejoins PRI after leaving in 2013 Danish exodus

Leading fund aims to take active role, with a focus on SDGs and climate change

PensionDanmark has rejoined the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), some six years after leaving the network together with 10 other Danish signatories in a dispute over PRI governance.

The DKK235.9bn (€31.6bn) pension fund, headed by long-time CEO Torben Möger Pedersen, has quietly re-appeared on the PRI signatory register.

It confirmed the move in a statement to RI, and said it would take an active role in the PRI with a particular focus on “efforts to measure and benchmark investors impact on investments that meet the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)” and “efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius”.

The PRI wasn’t able to immediately comment on PensionDanmark’s re-joining.

The mass revolt in 2013 happened because the Danish funds were concerned about how the PRI was governed at the time.

The specific issues raised included a perceived lack of transparency around decision-making — a lack of publicly available notes on board meetings was given as an example — and what was seen as an undemocratic election process for selecting the PRI’s governing board which was not, at the time, directly elected by signatories.

The Nordic investors also fell out with the PRI over a global public policy lobbying initiative which they said had been “rammed through”.

A joint statement released at the time said: “We have … over a sustained period of time observed that the governance of the PRI does not live up to the basic standards we as investors would expect of the companies in which we invest.“Despite numerous attempts to improve the conditions within PRI, we must, unfortunately, acknowledge that these attempts have not been successful. Therefore, we have chosen to leave.”

In spite of the split, the leavers stressed that they would continue to uphold the PRI’s six principles of responsible investment and leave the door open to re-entering the network in the future.

In the wake of the funds’ departure, the PRI appointed consultants Carnstone to review its governance structure.

In 2015, PRI head Fiona Reynolds took to the pages of RI
to announce a new governance structure – voted through with the highest signatory participation rate in the PRI’s history – and declaring a determination to “move on and focus on the PRI’s core activity”.

This seems to have worked. Currently, out of the 11 Danish funds which quit the PRI in 2013/14, only four are yet to re-appear on the signatory list: Lægernes Pension, LD Pension, Industriens Pension and Tryg Pension.

In other news, the PRI today announced the publication of signatory Transparency Reports – submissions to the body’s annual Responsible Investment assessment – in its data portal. The online platform allows signatories to submit requests to view the Transparency Reports of their peers.

The PRI is to announce signatory assessment scores for the 2019 reporting cycle in the coming weeks.