Fain closes ranks with Reyns: Criteria supports the salary of Naturgy's leadership on the Board and reaffirms itself as a “long-term investor”

Naturgy has saved the Shareholders’ Meeting, held today in Madrid, without saber rattling after months of internal tensions between the four large investors that control its capital: CriteriaCaixa, CVC, GIP and IFM. One of the key points of the day was the group’s remuneration policy and, in particular, the salary of its president, Francisco Reyns which in the days prior to the Meeting had been questioned by the main voting advisors (proxy advisors) on the international scene. Finally, the 76% of the capital present at the event has supported the Annual Remuneration Reportwhich means that the company’s first shareholder, CriteriaCaixa, the investment arm of Fundacin La Caixa, has closed ranks with the Catalan director.

In the hands of the investment holding company that presides Isidro Fain holds 27% of the capital of the gas company. To clear up all doubts, Criteria released a statement this Tuesday morning in which it reiterated its “explicit support for the transformation plan” of the energy company and reaffirmed its commitment “as a long-term investor” to the management team. headed by Reyns.

“This support has been endorsed today with the positive vote by CriteriaCaixa on the different points on the agenda of the General Shareholders’ Meeting held by the company, including the advisory vote in relation to the Annual Report on the Remuneration of the members of the Board of Directors”, have settled from the holding company.

Isidro Fain has closed his ranks with Francisco Reyns. Both have always been united by a close bond that has lasted since the latter changed the management of Abertis to that of Gas Natural (today Naturgy) in 2018. Criteria’s statement is not trivial. In recent months, Reyns’ position has been eroded by several fronts that have put the gas company in the spotlight.

Firstly, the demand by some of the energy’s leading shareholders for a transfer of powers by the president of Naturgy was revealed. That is, they asked for a change in the company’s governance model and the appointment of a second in command for Reyns, a CEO who would assume executive functions. The debate ended without changes in the leadership and with an increase in the dividend. According to sources in the sector, this claim continues to be heard in the Council.

Twice in a year

It is the second time in less than a year that CriteriaCaixa has broken a row in favor of Reyns. The previous public statement was in July 2023, 24 hours before a key Council in which the issue of the governance model was going to be addressed. The formula was the same. The holding company issued a statement with a similar message: “Criteria, Naturgy’s first shareholder, ratifies its confidence in the company’s management team led by its president, Francisco Reyns, and support your proposals aimed at being able to face the important challenges of the company in the coming years”.

The gas company’s price is not on a good streak. Despite its good results in 2023, the year in which it increased profits by more than 20%, to 2 billion eurosthe group’s shares have been weighed down by the unfavorable environment of gas and electricity prices and the decrease in liquidity that it has experienced as a result of the takeover bid and which has expelled the gas company (due to lack of free float) of some of the reference indices for large global investors, partly explain their punishment on the stock market.

Back at the Meeting this Tuesday, the call had a very high attendance quorum, 90%. “The proposals submitted for approval at this Meeting have received broad support as a whole. The management of the Board of Directors, the annual accounts and the dividend proposal have received the affirmative vote of 99.9% of the capital present at the Meeting“, they have reported from the company.

By Editor

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