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Investors Sue Volkswagen Over Climate-Change Lobbying Disclosures

Investors Sue Volkswagen Over Climate-Change Lobbying Disclosures
Six Volkswagen investors filed a lawsuit this week against the automaker for refusing to discuss whether its lobbying activities could jeopardize their investments at its annual general meeting (AGM), the investors said.
The investors, which include the Swedish public pension funds AP7, AP2, AP3, AP4, Danish AkademikerPension, and the Church of England Pensions Board, claim that the automaker's lobbying through membership in automotive and business associations contradicts its public messaging about the importance of the green transition.
This exposes the company and their investments - which account for approximately 0.1 per cent of Volkswagen shares - to operational and reputational risk, they claim in a statement.
While Volkswagen discloses its trade association memberships, investors have previously stated that it should go further and state whether the aims of the associations are compatible with the carmaker's emissions-cutting targets.
The case, filed in Germany's Braunschweig court, will determine whether companies have the right under German corporate law to refuse to include an item on an AGM agenda, and whether Volkswagen can keep it off the agenda for next year as well.
According to a Volkswagen spokesperson, adding the provision under consideration to the articles of incorporation would interfere with the executive board's management authority in an unacceptable way, and thus could not be resolved in an AGM.
"We share the view that aspects relevant to climate protection deserve even higher priority in reporting and are currently considering various approaches," the spokesperson added.
"It is worrying that our shareholder right to contribute to the annual meeting agenda has been refused. As a result, we felt the need to go to court to clarify this grey area for corporate law in Germany," Emma Henningson of AP7 said.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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