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Business and investment groups react to UK vote to leave the EU

Uncertainty now surrounds the status of the Shareholder Rights Directive following the UK’s Brexit referendum result. The Directive is currently stalled at the trialogue stage involving negotiations between the Commission, Parliament and country representatives. The UK has been a vocal advocate on promoting better governance and sustainability reporting in recent years. For example, the latest rules on statutory audit came into effect across the EU, including the UK, at the end of last week which aims to improve audit quality and restore investor confidence in financial information, which the European Commission has seen as an essential ingredient for future investment and economic growth.

The Best Practice Principles for Shareholder Voting Research Committee has agreed that it will continue to work together on many of the key proposals of the Directive, notably those relating to the proposed regulation of proxy advisors, shareholder ID and cross -border voting rights.

“The UK investment market is a focus for global asset management and the need for efficient cross-border investing and voting is as important in the coming years as it ever has been” said Manifest CEO Sarah Wilson. “The UK has been at the forefront of negotiations on behalf of savers and investors to protect their rights. That’s not going to change any time soon. It may be more complicated than before but given that the US has been effectively lobbying the EU for many years to further its interests the UK is now just going to have to adapt its approach and live with the new status quo”.

The UK’s position in the negotiations on better governance have not always been welcome. Some countries have seen so-called “anglo-saxon capitalism” as a step too far away from the stakeholder model preferred by many EU member states.  “The UK is actively engaged with the UN, OECD and a raft of supra-national bodies which are very often the key drivers of initiatives which find their way into our national legislation” said Wilson.  “Until the full terms of the Brexit deal are negotiated and confirmed, the ESG community in the UK and Europe has an outstanding opportunity to show that shared principles and beliefs transcend political treaties. Certainly Manifest will continue to press for improved cross border voting rights on a global stage, not just within the EU.”


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