Support companies in their sustainable growth strategy
Published on April 20, 2023
Caisse des Dépôts is a key shareholder in major French groups. Its unique long-term investor model and commitment to responsible performance makes it a key partner of companies’ long-term growth. Olivier Mareuse, Executive Vice President, Director of Asset Management and of Saving Funds at Caisse des Dépôts, gives his take.
What role does Caisse des Dépôts play in the economy?
Caisse des Dépôts is the leading public institutional investor in France. It holds a strategic position between the public and private sector, which allows it to carry out its public interest mission, notably through the management of savings funds, several pension plans, corporate funding and support for territorial growth. We manage a wide range of assets: shares, bonds, buildings, listed and unlisted funds, forests, etc. In total, our portfolio of financial investments represents around 245 billion euros.
Caisse des Dépôts is highly committed to shareholding. It is one of the leading investors in major French groups and invests equally in leading listed companies and small- and mid-cap listed companies. This is a unique characteristic, and what makes Caisse des Dépôts a major player in France’s economic recovery1. In 2020, for example, we helped initiate the Relance durable France fund in partnership with France Assureurs, to help support companies following the public health crisis.
Why is Caisse des Dépôts committed to being a long-term shareholder?
Because it guarantees performance! Over the long term, a sustainable investment generates a major outperformance compared with other, more short-term, management approaches. It also allows us to support companies in their transformation by committing them in the long term to change their model to better take extra-financial challenges into account, in particular climate risk. We encourage them to adopt the best standards, notably the environmental criteria defined by the SBTi2.
What are your expectations in terms of corporate social responsibility?
Companies are facing major structural changes, relating to environmental issues but also digitization and attracting new talent against a backdrop of an aging population. They must meet these major challenges, which are prerequisites to a sustainable performance. As a stable shareholder, Caisse des Dépôts has a crucial role to play with respect to companies. We encourage them to include tangible social and environmental objectives in their strategies that are in line with Caisse des Dépôts’ Sustainable Finance Charter.
Companies must, for example, have an ecological and energy transition plan, with credible and ambitious objectives for 2030. We also ask them about their action in favor of the protection of biodiversity. On a social level, we pay close attention to the respect for human rights across the entire value chain, to equality and employee representation within the Board of Directors, to the remuneration of executive management, and to the balance of power.
How do you support them in practice?
Through regular dialogue with executive management, and close supervision. This dialogue is key and allows us to tailor our approach to each company, to help commit it to improving its ESG practices as much as possible. We rely on an internal team of manager-analysts who have an in-depth knowledge of the companies and their sectors.
2. Science-Based Targets initiative ou SBTi définit et promeut les meilleures pratiques en matière de fixation d'objectifs fondés sur la science et évalue de manière indépendante les objectifs des entreprises.
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