UK-based governance and proxy voting firm Minerva Analytics has been acquired by German index provider Solactive for an undisclosed sum.
Solactive originally made a minority investment in Minerva in 2019, with the two firms partnering on a number of data and technology sharing initiatives. Post-acquisition, the pair will continue to operate independently, “partnering on an arm’s length basis in the fields of data science and technology”, Minerva said.
Both companies were founding members of the Net Zero Financial Service Providers Alliance.
Steffen Scheuble, Solactive’s CEO, said the growth in interest in sustainable investment over the past few years “has been driven by both regulatory demands and increased client attention”. In particular, clients are “keen to diversify their sources of input and intelligence to improve outcomes”.
“We believe this trend will only accelerate and we look forward to our continued close collaboration with Minerva as it cements its position as one of a handful of truly global and objective sustainable stewardship services and ESG research and data providers,” he said.
Minerva CEO Sarah Wilson confirmed to Responsible Investor that the management team will continue in post and there will be no changes to job titles.
“Sustainable stewardship is a critical theme for all investors and since Solactive’s initial investment we’ve been focused on growing out that offering – a journey we started back in 2014,” she said.
“Today that offering includes core ESG data to support Solactive’s index offering, as well as our own TCFD, ESG and SDGs solutions for asset owners and asset managers. Solactive’s global footprint and extensive client base provide a strong platform for future growth as clients look for more innovation and value for money – such as for example, pooled fund split voting.”
Wilson has been an influential figure in the world of voting and proxy advice. Minerva partnered with DWS and Northern Trust in February 2021 to launch one of the first services allowing asset owners to express voting preferences in pooled funds, and Wilson sat on the drafting committee for the Best Practice Principles for Governance Research Providers. She was also vice-chair of the UK government-established Taskforce on Pension Scheme Voting Implementation.
Separately, on Tuesday Minerva announced a partnership with Swiss sustainability rating, research and proxy voting firm Inrate to integrate their offerings for Swiss investors.
There has been a string of deals in the proxy advisory space in recent years, including US proxy giant Glass Lewis’s acquisition of Proxinvest late last year.
Proxinvest will expand Glass Lewis’s European footprint, following its acquisition of the clients of Spanish corporate governance and technology company Alembeeks in 2021 and German-based adviser IVOX in 2015.
In 2021, Glass Lewis itself was sold by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board and Alberta Investment Management Corporation to private equity firm Peloton Capital Management and Canadian entrepreneur Stephen Smith. In 2020, Glass Lewis’s rival ISS was sold to Deutsche Börse by private equity firm Genstar.