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Date Ref. Title Section Type Download Info Summary Related Documents Translated versions
14/09/2011 2011/288 Call for evidence- Empty voting , , Consultation Paper PDF
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22/03/2012 2012/212 Discussion Paper- An Overview of the Proxy Advisory Industry. Considerations on Possible Policy Options , Consultation Paper PDF
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This Discussion Paper focuses on the development of the proxy advisory industry in Europe, which mainly serves institutional investors such as asset managers, mutual funds and pension funds. Following its fact-finding work in 2011, ESMA recognises the proxy advisory industry within Europe is, or is expected to be, growing in prominence and investors are, or are expected to be, increasingly using proxy advisor services. In this paper ESMA identifies several key issues related to the proxy advisory market which may have an impact on the proper functioning of the voting process. The range of policy options that ESMA will consider, and on which it seeks further input from market participants, consists of four broad areas, including: 1.    No EU-level action at this stage 2.    Encouraging Member States and/or industry to develop standards 3.    Quasi-binding EU-level regulatory instruments 4.    Binding EU-level legislative instruments ESMA will consider these options based on the feedback it receives from market participants, and, if appropriate, will undertake further policy action, either directly or by providing an opinion to the European Commission. The reason to bring up some policy options is due to the fact that proxy advisors are currently not regulated at a pan-European level. Nevertheless, there are relevant European rules that apply to investors (e.g. for UCITS management companies when exercising voting rights). In addition, there are also well-recognised corporate governance standards that apply to issuers at a national level (based on the “comply or explain approach”) and some complements to improve standards of stewardship among investors. All feedback received from this Discussion Paper will be duly considered. ESMA expects to publish a feedback statement in Q4 of 2012 which will summarise the responses received and will state ESMA’s view on whether there is a need for policy action in this area.
27/03/2012 2012/224 ESMA seeks views on proxy advisors , , Press Release PDF
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ESMA published last Thursday a discussion paper (ESMA/2012/212) on proxy advisors active in the European Union, seeking views of stakeholders. The paper aims at giving an overview of the state and structure of the market, advisor’s methodologies, and on possible policy options. Generally, proxy advisors assist (institutional) investors and asset managers in their voting policy and strategy.  Currently, there are no rules in place on a pan-European basis regarding proxy advisors. ESMA will use the feedback received on this paper to publish a feedback statement in Q4 of 2012, which will also include ESMA’s view on whether there is a need for policy action in the area.
11/01/2013 2013/12 Principles for Benchmarks-Setting Processes in the EU Consultation Paper PDF
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11/01/2013 2013/13 ESMA and the EBA take action to strengthen Euribor and benchmark rate-setting processes , Press Release PDF
207.75 KB
14/02/2013 2013/215 ESMA issues first risk report on EU securities markets , Press Release PDF
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19/02/2013 2013/240 ESMA recommends EU Code of Conduct for proxy advisor industry , , Press Release PDF
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06/06/2013 2013/684 ESMA and the EBA publish final principles on benchmarks , , Press Release PDF
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20/09/2013 2013/1324 ESMA TRV: market conditions improve, as systemic risks persist Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) published today its Trends, Risks, Vulnerabilities (TRV) Report and a Risk Dashboard for the second quarter of 2013. The TRV examines the performance of securities markets in the first half of 2013, assessing both trends and risks in order to develop a comprehensive picture of systemic and macro-prudential risks in the EU, to assist both national and EU bodies in their risk assessments. ESMA’s TRV contributes to promoting financial stability and enhancing consumer protection by regularly looking into cross-border and cross-sector trends, risks and vulnerabilities, both at the wholesale and retail level. The TRV finds that EU securities markets and investment conditions in the EU have improved for a second quarter in a row since the 4th quarter of 2012, although systemic risk persisted at medium to high levels. Amongst other risk factors, uncertainty remained high due to concerns over funding sources, low interest rates and recent market fluctuations, resulting in increased market risk, while liquidity, credit and contagion risk continue to be significant. Steven Maijoor, ESMA Chair, said: “While the easing of stress in financial markets is a positive sign, systemic risks in the EU remain high and uncertainty in the international market environment has risen. Valuations in securities markets, volatility in fund flows, and continuity issues around financial benchmarks remain a matter of concern. Faced with these issues regulators and market participants should remain vigilant. “ESMA’s work on identifying those risks facing Europe’s securities markets is an important component in the European System of Financial Supervision’s efforts to foster recovery in its markets and promote financial stability.” The TRV identifies the following key trends for the first half of 2013 in EU securities markets: • Securities markets: market conditions improved moderately while issuance was subdued with equity prices declining and inter-bank lending increasing. The second quarter saw an increase in sovereign borrowing costs, and corporate bonds; covered bonds and securitised products were subdued; • Collective investments: asset managers benefited from improved market conditions, mainly driven by bond, equity or alternative funds whereas money market fund assets decreased. Overall, leverage remained moderate but capital inflows were volatile reflecting a decline in investor sentiment; and • Market infrastructures: trading on EU venues increased in early 2013. Central clearing of interest rate swaps continued to grow. Potential continuity issues around financial benchmarks give rise to concerns. Key risks identified in the Report, and published separately in the Risk Dashboard, include: • Liquidity risk: even though policy action helped to reduce liquidity risks in main market segments, others rose, leaving the overall liquidity risk at high levels; • Credit risk: securities markets in the EU saw a reduction in issuance volumes, mainly in asset classes with higher risk and longer maturities. Despite recent debt refinancing, overall credit risk remains high; • Market risk: equity and bond markets risks increased driven by rising concerns over the valuation of assets; and • Contagion risk: the risk of contagion between market segments remained unchanged, while the level of credit default swap exposures declined. In addition, the TRV presents in-depth analyses on four specific topics: • First evidence on the impact of the Short-Selling Regulation on securities markets; • Contagion risks and the network structure of EU CDS exposures; • Overview of the EU UCITS industry; and • Overview of bail-in and contingent capital securities. Next steps As part of its on-going market surveillance, ESMA publishes its TRV semi-annually, complemented by its quarterly risk dashboard.
12/11/2013 2013/1645 ESMA clarifies shareholder cooperation in takeover situations , , Press Release PDF
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ESMA clarifies shareholder cooperation in takeover situations The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published a statement on practices governed by the Takeover Bid Directive (TBD), focused on shareholder cooperation issues relating to acting in concert and the appointment of board members. The statement contains a White List of activities that shareholders can cooperate on without the presumption of acting in concert. It also contains information on how shareholders may cooperate in order to secure board member appointments by setting out factors that national authorities may take into account when considering whether shareholders are acting in concert. The statement is in response to a request by the European Commission for clarity on these issues, following its 2012 report on the application of the TBD. It is based on information collected about the TBD’s application and common practices across the European Economic Area (EEA). The statement was prepared by the Takeover Bids Network, a permanent working group, under ESMA’s auspices, that promotes the exchange of information on practices and application of the TBD across EEA. Steven Maijoor, ESMA Chair, said: “Today’s statement means that shareholders can now be confident that they can expect authorities to take a consistent approach across the EEA to their cooperative activities. This consistency should in turn provide the reassurance needed by shareholders for the effective, sustainable engagement that is one of the cornerstones of listed companies’ corporate governance model allowing them to hold their boards to account. “ESMA believes that ensuring a consistent and convergent supervisory approach to this issue will be instrumental in affording equality of treatment to shareholders and investors across the EEA.” National competent authorities will have regard to the White List when determining whether shareholders are persons acting in concert under national takeover rules, but will also take into account all other relevant factors in making their decisions. Shareholder cooperation and acting in concert - The White List When shareholders cooperate to engage in any of the activities listed below, that cooperation will not, in and of itself, lead to a conclusion that the shareholders are acting in concert: 1. entering into discussions with each other about possible matters to be raised with the company’s board; 2. making representations to the company’s board about company policies, practices or particular actions that the company might consider taking; 3. other than in relation to the appointment of board members, exercising shareholders’ statutory rights; 4. other than in relation to a resolution for the appointment of board members and insofar as such a resolution is provided for under national company law, agreeing to vote the same way on a particular resolution put to a general meeting. If shareholders cooperate in an activity not included on the White List, this will also not result in an automatic assumption that they are acting in concert. Each case will be determined on its own particular facts. Cooperation in relation to the appointment of members of the board of a company The White List does not include any activity relating to cooperation on board appointments, due to differences in Member State approaches towards determining whether shareholders who cooperate in relation to board appointments are acting in concert. However, shareholders may wish to cooperate in order to secure board members’ appointment in a company in which they have invested. This cooperation might take the form of: 1. entering into an agreement or arrangement (informal or formal) to exercise their votes in the same way in order to support the appointment of one or more board members; 2. tabling a resolution to remove one or more board members and replace them with one or more new board members; or 3. tabling a resolution to appoint one or more additional board members. The statement therefore indicates which factors may be considered when assessing whether such cooperation is indeed an act of acting in concert. ESMA will keep the public statement under review in order to ensure that it continues to reflect accurately the practices and application of the TBD in the Member States. 2013/1642 Public Statement - Information on shareholder cooperation and acting in concert under the Takeover Bids Directive. 2013/1643 Cover Note to the Public Statement
21/03/2014 2014/300 Draft Regulatory Technical Standards on major shareholdings and indicative list of financial instruments subject to notification requirements under the revised Transparency Directive , Consultation Paper PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has launched a consultation on draft Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) under the revised Transparency Directive relating to the notification of major shareholdings and the indicative list of financial instruments subject to notification requirements. The consultation runs until 30 May 2014. The revised Transparency Directive 2013/50/EC (TD) was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 6 November 2013 and entered into force on 27 November 2013. ESMA is required to submit certain draft Regulatory Technical Standards (RTSs) on major shareholdings (for details on each RTS, see the relevant section) to the European Commission (Commission or EC) by 27 November 2014. According to Articles 10 and 15 of Regulation (EU) No 1095/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing ESMA (ESMA Regulation), ESMA must conduct a public consultation before submitting draft RTSs to the Commission. This Consultation Paper (CP) therefore seeks stakeholders’ views on proposals for such RTSs. The input from stakeholders will help ESMA finalise the draft RTSs. Respondents to this CP are encouraged to consider the costs and benefits that the draft RTSs would imply and provide the relevant data to support their arguments or proposals. The CP also seeks stakeholders’ views on the proposed content of an indicative list of financial instru-ments referenced to shares and with economic effect similar to holding shares and entitlements to acquire shares. To respond
21/03/2014 2014/302 ESMA consults on major shareholders disclosures , Press Release PDF
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ESMA consults on major shareholders disclosures The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has launched a consultation on draft Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) under the revised Transparency Directive relating to the notification of major shareholdings and the indicative list of financial instruments subject to notification requirements. The consultation runs until 30 May 2014. The revised Directive harmonises transparency requirements relating to information about issuers whose securities are admitted to trading on an EU regulated market. This harmonisation aims to enhance transparency in respect of the ownership structure of an issuer, to improve legal certainty and reduce the administrative burden for cross-border investors. The revised Transparency Directive also addresses the issue of the disclosure regime for new types of financial instruments that expose investors to an economic risk similar to when holding shares. The draft RTS support these objectives by facilitating the creation of a harmonised regime regarding the aggregation of holdings of shares and financial instruments, the calculation of notification thresholds and the exemptions from notification requirements. Steven Maijoor, ESMA Chair, said: “Transparency is essential for ensuring that markets function properly and investors are afforded adequate protection when making investment decisions. “Today’s proposals support the aims of the Transparency Directive to improve the effectiveness of the transparency regime on corporate ownership. Clarity on this issue will ensure that shareholders and potential investors are in possession of the information needed to make informed investment decisions.” Draft Regulatory Technical Standards The draft RTS on the major shareholding notifications addresses the following issues: • Method of calculation of 5% threshold exemption regarding trading books and market makers; • Calculation method regarding a basket of shares or an index; • Methods for determining the ‘delta’ for calculating voting rights; and • Exemptions regarding notification of financial instruments. The Consultation Paper also sets out the proposed content of an indicative list of financial instruments which should be subject to the notification requirements laid down in the Directive, and outlines the processes for updating that list. The input from stakeholders will help ESMA in drafting the final report and determining the content of the draft RTS. Comments to this consultation can be submitted via ESMA’s website and the deadline for submission is 30 May 2014.
19/12/2014 2014/1566 Draft Regulatory Technical Standards on European Electronic Access Point (EEAP) Consultation Paper PDF
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Responding to this paper ESMA invites comments on all matters in this paper and in particular on the specific questions summarised in Annex III. Comments are most helpful if they:1.    respond to the question stated;2.    indicate the specific question to which the comment relates;3.    contain a clear rationale; and4.    describe any alternatives ESMA should consider. In order to respond to this paper, please follow the instructions given in the document ‘Reply form for the EEAP Consultation Paper’ also published on the ESMA website. ESMA will consider all comments received by 30 March 2015. All contributions should be submitted online at www.esma.europa.eu under the heading ‘Your input - Consultations’. Publication of responses All contributions received will be published following the close of the consultation, unless you request otherwise.  Please clearly and prominently indicate in your submission any part you do not wish to be publically disclosed. A standard confidentiality statement in an email message will not be treated as a request for non-disclosure. A confidential response may be requested from us in accordance with ESMA’s rules on access to documents. We may consult you if we receive such a request. Any decision we make not to disclose the response is reviewable by ESMA’s Board of Appeal and the European Ombudsman. Data protection Information on data protection can be found at www.esma.europa.eu under the heading Legal Notice. Who should read this paper In particular, comments are sought from issuers, officially appointed mechanisms, investors, users of regulated information and stakeholders at large who are affected by Directive 2004/109/EC of December 2004 as amended by Directive 2013/50/EC.

11/03/2015 2015/562 Press release- ESMA sees continued tense securities market conditions , Press Release PDF
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05/05/2015 JC/2015/02 ESAs- main risks to EU financial market stability have intensified , , Press Release PDF
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The Joint Committee of the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) published its fifth Report on Risks and Vulnerabilities in the EU Financial System. Overall, the report found that in the past six months, risks affecting the EU financial system have not changed in substance, but have further intensified. The EU’s economic performance improved slightly in early 2015, however the financial sector in general continues to be affected by a combination of factors such as low investment demand, economic uncertainty in the Eurozone and its neighbouring countries, a global economic slow-down and a low-interest rate environment. The main risks affecting the financial system remain broadly unchanged from those identified in the report’s previous edition, but have become more entrenched. The major risks include: • Low growth, low inflation, volatile asset prices and their consequences for financial entities; • Search for yield behaviour exacerbated by potential rebounds; • Deterioration in the conduct of business; and • Increased concern about IT risks and cyber-attacks. Despite these risks, a number of ongoing policy and regulatory initiatives are contributing to improving the stability and confidence in the financial system as well as facilitating additional funding channels to the real economy. These include ongoing regulatory reforms in the securities, banking and insurance sectors such as the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) and Regulation (MiFIR), the work on the implementation of the Capital Requirements Directive and Regulation (CRDIV/CRR), the work on the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD), the Deposit-Guarantee Schemes Directive (DGS) and the Solvency II Directive, as well as the European Commission’s plan for a Capital Markets Union (CMU). Steven Maijoor, Chair of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) and the current Chairman of the Joint Committee, said: “The Joint Committee has noted some improvement in overall market conditions; however, the recovery is not yet sustained and is exposed to risks related to broad macroeconomic conditions, in particular the low interest environment and resulting search-for-yield behaviour. Additionally regulators continue to have concerns about the operational risks generated by some financial institutions’ inappropriate business conduct, as well as those risks posed by inadequate management of IT risks. “However, recent regulatory initiatives across the banking, insurance and securities sectors, such as the Comprehensive Assessment, the insurance sector stress test and Solvency II along with, the ongoing MiFID, EMIR and PRIPS reforms are contributing to improving the stability and confidence in the EU financial system." Key Risks Identified The identified risks in the Report can be divided into macro risks to the EU financial system and economy and operational risks. Macro Risks The key macro risks identified relate to: 1. Risks from weak economic growth and low inflation environment, which include: • Adverse effect that low interest rates and uncertainties about the economic recovery have had on the outlook for the financial industry; • Higher valuation and market liquidity risk has raised concerns about the outlook for financial entities’ stability in the event of reversals in interest rates and asset prices; 2. Low profitability is motivating financial institutions and other investors to search for yield, which requires increased supervisory attention to the viability of business models, related restructuring activity and adequate management of risks. However, the promotion of sound and innovative business models for market-based funding structures could help to deliver additional stimulus; and 3. Some continued doubts on the comparability and consistency of banks’ calculations of risk weighted assets. Operational Risks The key operational risks relate to: 4. Business conduct risk remains a key concern with the Report recommending that supervisors should include misconduct costs in future stress tests where appropriate, while financial institutions should strengthening product oversight and governance frameworks. Further improvements in the regulatory framework and supervisory practices to address conduct risks are also warranted. In addition, further progress needs to be made on benchmark reforms where continuity and integrity remain a source of concern even if key panels remained stable; and 5. IT operational risk and cyber risk remain of great concern and pose challenges to the the safety and integrity of financial institutions. IT risk increased due to costs pressures, outsourcing, the need for additional capacities and a mounting number of cyber-attacks. The adequate integration of IT risk into overall risk management is a key policy for mitigation.
08/06/2015 2015/920 Impact of the Best Practice Principles for Providers of Shareholder Voting Research and Analysis , Consultation Paper PDF
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Responding to this Call for Evidence ESMA invites comments on all matters in this paper and in particular on the specific questions presented throughout the paper. Comments are most helpful, if they:a.    respond to the question stated;b.    indicate the specific question to which they relate; andc.    contain a clear rationale.  ESMA will consider all comments received by 27 July 2015. All contributions should be submitted online at www.esma.europa.eu under the heading ‘Your input - Consultations’. Publication of responses All contributions received will be published following the close of the Call for Evidence, unless you request otherwise.  Please clearly and prominently indicate in your submission any part you do not wish to be publically disclosed. A standard confidentiality statement in an email message will not be treated as a request for non-disclosure. A confidential response may be requested from us in accordance with ESMA’s rules on access to documents. We may consult you, if we receive such a request. Any decision we make not to disclose the response is reviewable by ESMA’s Board of Appeal and the European Ombudsman.Data protection Information on data protection can be found at www.esma.europa.eu under the heading Legal Notice.Who should read this Call for Evidence This Call for Evidence will be of relevance to persons and entities participating in the voting chain, particularly proxy advisors, investors, companies listed in Europe, proxy solicitors and consultants.
14/09/2015 2015/1379 ESMA raises its market risk indicator to highest level , Press Release PDF
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25/09/2015 2015/1463 ESMA Consultation Paper on ESEF , , Consultation Paper PDF
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18/12/2015 2015/1871 Proxy advisors take steps towards increased transparency , , Press Release PDF
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17/03/2016 2016/366 ESMA maintains market risk indicator at highest level , Press Release PDF
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