During the year Acea participated in numerous “virtual” events (meetings, extended presentations, investor conferences, road- shows and reverse roadshows), meeting with about 240 buy-side investors and analysts (both equity and credit).
Conference calls and webcasts were held for the approval of annual and interim results, and there was frequent contact with the financial community, with a total of over 170 analysts and investors. Approximately 140 studies/reports on Acea shares were published during the year under review. Six investment banks analyse Acea shares with a high level of continuity, of which five gave the Acea share a positive rating while one gave a neutral rating on 31 December 2021.
ACEA'S ENGAGEMENT POLICY
In November 2021, Acea adopted the "Policy for managing dia- logue with institutional investors, shareholders and bondholders" (the Engagement Policy), in line with the provisions of the new Corporate Governance Code.
Through this tool, Acea aims to promote a constant and effective dialogue with these stakeholders in order to contribute to the achievement of business objectives and strengthen the generation and sharing of value, while ensuring the principles of transparency, timeliness, equal treatment, fairness and reliability.
Specifically Acea‘s Engagement Policy defines:
- the topics to be discussed with Institutional investors/sharehold- ers/bondholders;
- the corporate functions and departments responsible for en- gagement, and the methods and deadlines for reporting to the Board of Directors;
- the channels of communication through which the financial community can engage with the Company (shareholders’ meet- ing, meetings with analysts, industry conferences, Investor days, webcasts, company website, press releases, etc.).
ESG ANALYSTS RATE ACEA
The Covid-19 pandemic strengthened institutional investor inter- est in ESG issues, which are increasingly integrated into invest- ment decisions. In particular, the financial community’s sensitivity to social and environmental issues has increased, with a growth in investor awareness of the attractive risk/return profile that can be offered by sustainable investments.
The increasing attention ESG investors place on Acea is confirmed by their growing participation in the company’s equity. Based on an analysis carried out in November 2021, these shareholders rep- resent 5.5% of Acea’s share capital and about 40% of the total number of institutional investors. They consist mostly of European funds, followed by investors from North America.
During the year, Acea further improved or confirmed its position in analysts' assessments, ratings and benchmarks, as illustrated below.
Acea has been confirmed in the "Leadership" category with the level A- by CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclo- sure Project), the international reference organisation, supported by about 600 international investors, which promotes global atten- tion to the management of climate change risks and impacts, in- viting companies to provide detailed and timely information on the subject. On the basis of the analysis of the data and information ac- quired, CDP publishes each year, in a ranking, the assessment made on each undertaking. In 2021, more than 13,000 companies and over 1,100 public bodies disclosed their information through CDP. For details see Box in the chapter Strategy and Sustainability).
In the year under review, Acea further improved its sustainability solicited rating by the independent agency Stand- ard Ethics (SE), receiving a rating of EE (investment grade F/EEE scale) and confirming the long-term long term expected rating (EE+). In June 2021 Standard Ethics announced the launch of the SE Mid Italian Index which will consist of a basket of 20 mid-cap stocks listed on the Italian Stock Exchange selected from a list of 30 companies, including Acea, whose composition will be based on capitalisation and free float values, in consideration of the industrial sector and the rating assigned.
Acea has been included among the 15 largest EU-listed multi-utility companies that have made up the SE European Multi-Utilities Index since 2020. This index aims to provide an overview of the level of sustainability progressively achieved by European compa- nies operating in the field of essential public services.
Acea improved for the fourth consecutive year in the assessment of the French ESG agency GAIA rating (EthiFinance Group), achieving a score of 82/100 (78/100 the previous year). The Agency assesses companies on the basis of 75 indicators in 4 areas: environment, social, governance and stakeholder relations. The assessment process is based both on public evidence provided by the companies and on direct comparison with them; at both stages the agency carries out checks on the reliability and robust- ness of the data.
During the year Acea also received ESG ratings from other major players: Sustainalytics assessed Acea as a company with a low level of risk, with optimal management control; Refinitiv placed the Company in the third quartile, indicating a good ESG performance and an above-average degree of transparency in disclosing rele- vant ESG data; MSCI ESG Rating confirmed the "A" rating (AAA (leader)-CCC scale) upon its assessment of Acea's proactive man- agement of ESG risks. During the year there were also interactions with VigeoEiris for the agency's ESG assessment initiatives, and with ISS ESG which confirmed the rating already issued
Finally, Acea's presence in the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index has been confirmed for the third consecutive year, with a further improvement in the score received, which is 80.67 for 2021. This index includes 418 companies from 45 countries, which best value gender equality in terms of disclosure and corporate practices (for more details see the section on Diversity, inclusion and welfare in the chapter Staff).