Glass Lewis sides with Bluebell in climate push at Solvay
This article was first published on Insightia’s Activism module. For more information about the product, click here.
Proxy voting adviser Glass Lewis has raised concerns about the climate impact of Solvay’s operations in Italy, the heart of a battle between the Belgian chemicals group and activist investor Bluebell Capital Partners.
Glass Lewis said in a recent report seen by Insightia’s Activism module that while Solvay has moved to address worries about its soda ash facility in Tuscany over the past year, more needed to be done on the matter.
The proxy adviser said Solvay was facing reputational damage due to the controversial plant that discharges the residues of sodium carbonate production into the sea in Rosignano, Tuscany.
“The company’s exposure to reputation risks increased significantly last year after allegations that the Rosignano plant discharges may contain polluting heavy metals and the relative attention of the media, as well as company shareholders and activists,” said a report from last week. In it, Glass Lewis recommended a vote against ratifying the board’s acts for the past fiscal year.
However, the firm amended its report days later to advise Solvay shareholders to abstain on the subject at the chemical group’s May 10 annual meeting.
Bluebell began pushing Solvay to mitigate the climate impact of its Italian plant back in 2010. Last year, the activist took the bold step of asking Solvay to sack CEO Ilham Kadri, saying she had failed to act on the matter. Bluebell owns a single Solvay share.
Three months ago, Solvay dismissed Bluebell’s criticism and insisted the plant was environmentally safe. The company cited constant monitoring from regulators and independent institutions that have confirmed that “the offshore water quality near the facility is safe and similar to the rest of the Tuscan coast.”