Investors ask automakers to explain emissions lobbying

A logo of Volkswagen is seen on a wheel of a Golf TDI parked at a dealership in Seoul, South Korea, October 5, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

LONDON (Reuters) - Leading European investment managers and pension funds controlling nearly $1 trillion have joined forces to call for automakers to better explain how they have lobbied public bodies on emissions standards.

Nineteen investors including AXA Investment Managers, the fund arm of insurer AXA AXAF.PA, and the Swedish national pension fund, wrote separate letters to 11 major automakers, retail investor watchdog ShareAction said in a statement.

Volkswagen VOWG.DE, BMW BMWG.DE, Honda 7267.T, Daimler DAIGn.DE, General Motors GM.N, Ford F.N, Fiat FCHA.MI, Peugeot PEUP.PA and Toyota 7203.T all received letters requesting information on lobbying around emissions rules being debated in the United States and the European Union.

Another letter was sent to Carlos Ghosn, chief executive of Nissan 7201.T and Renault RENA.PA, as both have been recognized as some of the best performing companies for CO2 emissions, the statement said.

The initiative comes after VW admitted rigging diesel emissions tests, knocking billions of euros off VW’s stock market value and throwing the spotlight on practices across the industry.

“When it comes to the engagement underway between a company and the key regulations affecting it, there are often sparse details available to investors,” Dylan Tanner, executive director at non-profit group InfluenceMap, which analyses and ranks companies on climate lobbying and influence, and which helped coordinate the sending of the letters.

“The Volkswagen case highlights the need for a much greater disclosure regime, both of the company’s specific position on key legislation and its involvement in the policy process.”

Reporting by Simon Jessop; Editing by David Holmes