As a patrimonial and engaged investor, GBL believes that responsible management is key to ensure the best interests for its stakeholders, by seeking sustainable growth of its portfolio assets and ultimately long-term value creation.
While GBL’s primary focus is to carry out profitable and sustainable activities, it also seeks to play a role within the broader society in which it operates. GBL’s responsible management approach consequently aims at benefiting to all stakeholders.
Our responsible management approach
Environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) considerations are fundamental to the way GBL conducts business, not only in its investment activities, but also as a company, and notably an employer and a contributor to the communities in which it operates.
As a responsible company
In spite of its non-material direct impact from an environmental and social standpoint (as presented in our materiality assessment), GBL values ESG responsibility and awareness. The group has a long history of being a responsible employer and consistently demonstrates integrity and strict ethical standards. For more information please refer to the section 2 of our Sustainability Report 2019.
As a responsible investor
GBL’s material impact is primarily indirect, i.e. through the companies composing its portfolio. Incorporating ESG factors into its investment analysis, within both the investment process and the portfolio monitoring, will contribute to enhance GBL’s investment performance over the long term. This is further described in section 3 of our Sustainability Report 2019, which details GBL’s ESG positioning as a responsible investor and reviews the key commitments of its portfolio companies.
In addition, as a long-term and listed investor, GBL has developed an ESG Statement, reflecting the core values that guide GBL and the CEO on environmental, social and governance issues. It presents the commitments and implementation guidelines regarding all three ESG pillars.
GRI content index
GBL’s sustainability report has been prepared as part of the Annual Report 2019 in accordance with (i) the Directive 2014/95/EU on non-financial reporting (transposed into the Belgian law of September 3, 2017) and (ii) for the first time, the GRI Standards - Core option. That report covers the calendar year 2019 (i.e. from January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019).
GBL’s statutory auditor, Deloitte, performed a review of the non-financial information as disclosed in the sustainability report and verified that it includes all the information required by article 119, § 2 of the Companies Code, which became article 3:32, §2 of the Code on companies and associations on January 1, 2020, and is in accordance with the consolidated financial statements for the financial year ended December 31, 2019. Deloitte do however not express any opinion on the question whether this non-financial information has been established in accordance with the internationally recognised frameworks mentioned in the directors’ report on the consolidated financial statements.
PwC has provided ISAE 3000 limited assurance on GBL’s assertion that the Annual Report 2019 meets the requirements of the GRI Standards (Core Option). PwC’s assurance opinion is available upon request.
Key ESG commitments of portfolio companies
As highlighted before, the portfolio companies identify and address their ESG impact and associated risks within the framework of their own internal control. Summarised below are their strategic commitments and objectives in the ESG field.