By Paul Davies

The launch of the Ecodesign Working Plan 2016-2019, covering the eco-design and energy labelling framework last month is another key milestone in the Commission’s plan to transition the EU to a more circular economy.

Key points to note from the Working Plan include:

  • The current state of play is that the Commission have adopted 28 Ecodesign Regulations, 16 Energy Labelling Delegated Regulations and three recognised Voluntary Agreements. A number of these regulations will be subject to review in 2019.
  • Going forward, the Commission shall publish a working plan outlining an indicative list of energy related product groups which will be considered priorities for the next three years.
  • Further measures to be adopted include: (i) an eco-design measure for heating and cooling products; (ii) an eco-design and energy-labelling measure on verification tolerances to improve product testing and reduce the scope for cheating; and (iii) a Recommendation for self-regulation to support industry in the pursuit of voluntary agreements as an alternative to regulation.

By Paul Davies and Michael Green

A new pensions directive was passed by the European Parliament on 24 November securing 512 votes (only 77 votes against and 40 abstentions), requiring EU workplace pension funds to consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. This is considered a ‘landmark’ moment for responsible investment.

The new pensions directive stipulates that:

  1. ESG criteria is to be considered in investment decisions and their practical implementation should be disclosed in regular reports.
  1. Pension funds have to include their ‘stranded asset‘ strategy as part of their risk management procedure.
  1. The integration of ESG considerations will not be considered as conflicting with fund managers’ fiduciary duties. Fund managers will not be exposed to legal liability for an alleged failure to act prudently by prioritising ESG factors over financial risk returns in their investment decisions.

By Amy Beckingham

In recent years, Chinese companies have become increasingly bold in the search for new deals, looking beyond the country’s borders for transformational takeovers. This year already, we have seen PEViews China chartthe largest ever outbound deal attempted by a Chinese company, with ChemChina’s $43billon bid for Swiss agribusiness Syngenta. As China becomes more relaxed about international deals, private equity firms looking to exit their portfolio companies should take note.

Chinese buyers have bought several private equity-backed assets this year. In March, KKR sold French luxury retailer SMCP to the Chinese textile maker Shangdong Ruyi. A month later, 3i sold baby products maker Mayborn to one of China’s biggest insurance companies, Ping An. Chinese buyers have been willing to pay high multiples for European assets, in the hope of importing products to their domestic market. Consumer and technology assets are of particular interest.

By Paul Davies and Alice Gunn

Unwrapping the New Circular Economy Package

The European Commission is driving the transition to a stronger and more circular economy by ensuring resources are used in a more sustainable way. On 2 December 2015, the Commission adopted a new Circular Economy Package which, according to the Commission, will help European businesses and consumers adopt more sustainable practices.

In December 2014, the Commission withdrew proposals for waste reductions targets on the grounds that the approach

By Elisabetta Righini

Investment in the infrastructure that keeps Europe running smoothly continues to be a big theme in European private equity.

In every sector, from energy to sport, from transport to broadband, governments are increasingly calling in the private sector to build and operate infrastructure assets. Indeed, spending on infrastructure received a boost in 2014 when the European Commission launched the InvestEU programme, which aimed to generate more than €300 billion for projects across Europe. Only last month, Chancellor George Osborne pledged £100 billion of government funding to reinvigorate infrastructure development in the UK.

By Alexandra Luchian

In 2010, the European Commission found that 11 airlines were culpable of price fixing[1]. The alleged cartel was said to have operated between 1999 and 2007. The Commission decision gave rise to a number of cartel damages actions, including proceedings in the English courts; the English proceedings are some of the largest actions to be heard in this jurisdiction.

Three important judgments were handed down in recent months, two in the Court of Appeal