Principles for Responsible Investment recommends dissolving Dutch charitable foundation

Stichting RI could be axed as part of PRI’s governance review

The Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), whose 1,325 signatories control $45trn (€37.8trn) of assets under management, has recommended that the Dutch charitable foundation it set up just over two years ago should be dissolved.

The proposal is amid a wider review of the organisation’s governance, the PRI said.

Stichting RI was established by the PRI in 2012 as an independent not-for-profit Dutch-registered charitable foundation, with its directors appointed by a majority vote of the PRI Advisory Council.

Its primary purpose was to “attract grants from foundations or other organisations” and over the 2013/14 period it focused on promoting research on responsible investment and contributing to a number of academic events.

The PRI now says in its latest financial information that many of the foundation’s fundraising functions have been assumed by PRI Association, the UK-registered company which was formed in 2010 and which was granted tax-free status in late 2012.

The centuries-old ‘stichting’ structure is that used by Dutch pension funds such as civil service giant ABP, whose official name is Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP.

“The PRI Advisory Council and Board agreed at its December 2014 meeting to recommend to the Board of Stichting RI that the entity be dissolved,” the PRI said.The foundation was most recently chaired by Marcel Jeucken, Managing Director of Responsible Investment at Dutch pension asset management giant PGGM. Other directors listed are David Russell, Co-Head of Responsible Investment at USS Investment Management, and Zaiga Strautmane, Head of ESG at Danish pension scheme Unipension and Chair of the Advisory Board at Hermes Equity Ownership Services.
The three main aims of the Stichting RI, as set out in its Articles of Association were to “advance education of the public”, “promote environmental social and corporate responsibility in the investment ownership and management communities worldwide” and to “advance citizenship and community development”. Stichting RI’s status as a charity and charity tax status was gained because of its stated educational objectives.

A PRI spokesperson said: “The PRI governance review was an opportunity to clarify and simplify the PRI governance structure.

“The PRI Advisory Council reviewed the utility of the Stichting RI and came to the conclusion that the Stichting RI adds unneeded complexity to the PRI governance structure, especially considering the PRI is starting to build up a good track record of attracting grants, without the need for the Stichting RI.”