Leading RWE investors oppose activist brown coal exit plan
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Two top 10 shareholders in RWE are not supporting a motion by activist investor Enkraft Capital calling for a separation of the power producer’s brown coal division.
“We do not consider a quick spin-off of the lignite business, as Enkraft is now demanding, to be expedient,” said Union Investment’s Head of Sustainability Henrik Pontzen, according to Reuters. Union holds a 1.4% stake in RWE.
Enkraft wants RWE to ditch its polluting brown coal operations, saying this would remove a discount currently weighing on the company’s shares and potentially unlock 16.5 billion euros ($18.2 billion) in trapped value. The activist argued that getting rid of brown coal, also known as lignite, was “the only way for RWE to become green in the foreseeable future.”
But RWE believes a swift exit from brown coal would do more harm than good, affecting jobs and the group’s capacity to invest in renewables. The Association of Municipal RWE shareholders (VkA), which controls a 14.1% stake in RWE, shares these concerns. Proxy voting advisers Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis also opposed Enkraft’s proposal.
Deka Investment does not support Enkraft’s proposal either. Deka, which last year said it was supportive of Enkraft’s view, wants to leave RWE room for maneuver, according to the newswire. The vote is scheduled for April 28.
“We will measure the entire RWE executive board including the supervisory board in this particular matter and make our judgment at the next annual general meeting,” said Deka’s Head of Sustainability, Ingo Speich.
RWE, one of Europe’s largest polluters, plans to invest 50 billion euros ($53 billion) through 2030 to double its green energy capacity to 50 gigawatts.
Notwithstanding its intention to vote in line with management’s recommendations on Enkraft’s motion, Union Investment believes RWE CEO Markus Krebber has not done enough to transform the German utility into a renewables heavyweight.