BENCIS RESPONSIBLE INVESTMENT POLICY
BENCIS RESPONSIBLE INVESTMENT POLICY
Since its inception in 1999, Bencis has created a distinctive company culture around three key objectives:
- Inspiration: We believe that long term success can only be created by passionate people operating as a team. This principle governs the way we work as a team at Bencis but also with the management teams of the companies we invest in. We believe in co-operation, common objectives and alignment of interest.
- Improvement: We continuously strive for, and focus on, better performance. Results and financial returns are a consequence of what we do, not an objective in itself. We believe that long term success follows hard work and incremental improvement.
- Integrity: At Bencis, we find it important that we, and our portfolio companies, conduct business in a responsible, reliable and transparent way. What you see is what you get, and as we put it: we do what we say, and we say what we do.
We have long relied on these objectives to govern our way of doing business in an informal way. For us, this company culture secures responsible investment effectively. Regardless, we formalised our efforts on Responsible Investment from 2014 onwards, as we wanted to make our commitment more explicit, to our investors, to the companies we invest in and to ourselves.
To us, Responsible Investment means that we invest in companies that make a positive contribution to a more sustainable, better, fairer and more transparent world. We like to invest in companies that have this as a prime objective, but we also invest in businesses that do not: in these cases we still choose to invest if we believe we can reduce the impact on the environment, improve the contribution to a healthy and fair society and/or increase the transparency around the governance or conduct of the business. Our commitment to this is much wider than the general exclusion of certain sectors: on each and every investment we evaluate, we consider counterparties, business practices, reputations and impact on the environment and society. Most importantly, we consider this with our team, and we expect everyone at Bencis to contribute to this debate and to dissent if relevant. When in doubt, we do not invest.
To assess the impact of our companies, we have developed a proprietary five-step framework. First, we look at the relevance of nine ESG factors in the company’s industry and take a view on where this industry is moving over time. Using our framework, we create an industry heatmap, highlighting the friction between the entire industry value chain and a sustainable future. Then, the company’s performance is assessed by analysing data of the company’s current operations. Opportunities for improvement are identified, objectives are set and an action plan is created. Last but not least, we conduct the assessment annually to monitor progress over time.
We apply this framework from the start, in due diligence before, or just after the initial investment by Bencis. We then follow this up in board meetings, as well as through a systemic annual review conducted by our counsel. The findings of this review are shared with our investors. As a GP, we also subject ourselves to this framework and review process.
BENCIS’ COMMITMENTS TO ESG
BENCIS’ COMITMENTS TO ESG
Bencis invests in accordance with the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI) and factors in environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) in all its investment decisions. Bencis has been a signatory to the UNPRI since 2014.
- Principle 1: We will incorporate ESG issues into investment analysis and decision-making processes.
- Principle 2: We will be active owners and incorporate ESG issues into our ownership policies and practices.
- Principle 3: We will seek appropriate disclosure on ESG issues by the entities in which we invest.
- Principle 4: We will promote acceptance and implementation of the Principles within the investment industry.
- Principle 5: We will work together to enhance our effectiveness in implementing the Principles.
- Principle 6: We will each report on our activities and progress towards implementing the Principles.
As a member of the European Venture Capital Association, Bencis is bound by the Invest Europe Code of Conduct:
- Act with integrity
- Keep your promises
- Disclose conflicts of interest
- Act in fairness
- Maintain confidentiality
- Do not harm the industry.
UN GLOBAL COMPACT
Bencis supports the Ten Principles of UN Global Compact:
- Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights;
- Principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.
- Principle 3: Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
- Principle 4: the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour;
- Principle 5: the effective abolition of child labour; and
- Principle 6: the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
- Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;
- Principle 8: undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and
- Principle 9: encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.
- Principle 10: Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.
UN SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS
Since 2019, Bencis has incorporated United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in its ESG framework and reporting.
Where applicable, the key material themes, as identified through the ESG framework, are linked to the SDGs and underlying targets. By establishing a roadmap with objectives that aim to improve performance on the selected key material themes, companies can contribute to the selected SDGs.
TASK FORCE ON CLIMATE-RELATED FINANCIAL DISCLOSURES
Bencis supports the adoption of the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures. In 2020, Bencis started reporting on PRI’s climate-related disclosures.
So far, climate related risks and opportunities have been implicitly assessed within the annual ESG review. For example, an industry and geographical ESG risk exposure analysis is conducted using MSCI data, which includes exposure to climate change risks. Furthermore, carbon footprint assessments are conducted, and other climate change related risks and opportunities are assessed if they are deemed material.
From next year onwards, the TCFD recommendations will be more explicitly incorporated in the annual ESG review. Portfolio companies will be asked to assess the likelihood and impact of climate-related risks and opportunities, and how these have been factored into the organisation’s strategy and products.
Furthermore, the industry and geographical risk exposure analysis will be extended with the use of modelling tools (e.g. EasyXDI) to assess physical and transitional climate-risks.
ESG AT BENCIS CAPITAL PARTNERS
In 2020, Bencis Capital Partners has been subject to an internal ESG review process as well, applying a similar approach as conducted for each of its portfolio companies. The five identified material themes include business travel, talent management and retention, responsible investing, corporate compliance and integration of sustainability principles. An action plan has been established, aiming to improve ESG performance on each of those themes in the coming years.
Furthermore, in 2009, Bencis offset CO2 emissions resulting from corporate travel for the first 10 years Bencis existed (1999-2009). Bencis is currently looking for a project to specifically offset its carbon footprint for the last 10 years (2009-2019). Per 2020, CO2 emissions due to corporate travel will be compensated on an annual basis.
Bencis fully supports the Paris Agreement (2015) which aims to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future. Within Bencis we are in the progress of implementing the steps towards reaching these goals throughout our portfolio.
FIRM LEVEL WEBSITE DISCLOSURE
FIRM LEVEL WEBSITE DISCLOSURE (ARTICLE 3, 4 AND 5 SFDR)
Sustainable Risk Finance Disclosure Regulation (2019/2088) (the Disclosure Regulation)
Bencis Capital Partners B.V. (Bencis) makes the following disclosures in accordance with articles 3(1), 4 (1) (b) and 5(1) of the Disclosure Regulation.
Sustainability risk policies
A sustainability risk means « an environmental, social or governance event or condition that, if it occurs, could cause an actual or potential material negative impact on the value of the investment ». For Bencis, sustainability risks are risks which, if they were to crystallise, would cause a material negative impact on the value of the portfolios of its alternative investment funds (AIFs).
Before any investment decisions are made on behalf of an AIF, Bencis performs general confirmatory due diligence which covers financial, legal, fiscal and sustainability issues, and is performed by external advisors when necessary. The investment committee of Bencis aims to assess the identified risks (includ-ing sustainability risks) alongside other relevant factors set out in an investment proposal. Following its assessment, the investment committee of Bencis makes investment decisions having regard to the rele-vant AIF’s investment policy and objectives.
Bencis pays parts of its staff a combination of fixed remuneration (salary and benefits) and variable re-muneration (including bonus). Variable remuneration for relevant staff takes into account compliance with all policies and procedures, including those relating to the impact of sustainability risks on the investment decision making process.
Principal Adverse Impact reporting
In accordance with article 4 sub 1 (b) of the Disclosure Regulation, Bencis states that it does not consider adverse impacts of investment decisions on sustainability factors as set forth in article 4 sub 1 (a) of the Disclosure Regulation and therefore does not make the disclosures as described in article 4 sub 1 (a) of the Disclosure Regulation. Given the small size of the organisation of Bencis, such disclosure as set forth in article 4 sub 1 (a) of the Disclosure Regulation and the administrative burden in connection there-with would not be proportional.