Kingspan investors urged to vote against chairman amid ESG oversight concerns

Proxy advisory company Glass Lewis concerned at ‘paucity of disclosure’

Kingspan shareholders are being urged by an influential investor advisory firm to vote against the re-election of the insulation maker’s chairman, Jost Massenberg, amid concerns about a lack of clear board oversight of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.

Glass Lewis, a proxy advisory company that makes voting recommendations to large investment groups, said Kingspan is not providing enough disclosure on the board’s involvement in governance of environmental and social matters.

“We note that such disclosure is common among the company’s peers and, in light of the recent ESG controversies involving the company, we find the relative paucity of disclosure particularly concerning,” Glass Lewis said in a report in advance of Kingspan’s annual general meeting (agm) on April 28th.

“Given the lack of progress with regards to the company’s disclosure in this area, we believe director Massengberg, as chair of the nominations and governance committee, should be held accountable for these failings.”


Proxy advisory firms have become more focused on environment, social and governance (ESG) matters in recent years, as investors globally take a greater interest. At Kingspan, the firms continue to monitor the fallout from the Grenfell Tower fire in London, which killed 72 people in 2017.

The Cavan-based group’s K15 insulation board was used on about 5 per cent of the insulation layer of external cladding of the block, unknown to the company.

However, in late 2020 an inquiry set up by the UK government into the disaster uncovered emails from Kingspan UK staff dating back to 2009 that joked about the fact that fire safety tests on K15 were flawed. The company maintains that tests on K15 have since been repeated and provided evidence to support the original safety claims for the product.

The final report on an inquiry disaster is expected to be published this month.

Kingspan has pushed back against Glass Lewis’s call that investors vote against its chairman at the agm, saying its ESG strategy “is overseen by the whole board of directors in a holistic manner”.

“Kingspan’s industry leading 10-year ‘Planet Passionate’ programme sets measurable targets for our business in the areas of carbon, energy, circularity, and water,” it said. “The externally verifiable science-based targets we have set for the business to reduce emissions, in both our operations and our value chain, are among the most ambitious in our peer group.”

Meanwhile, another leading investor advisory company, Institutional Shareholder Investors (ISS), has given a “qualified support” to the re-election of Kingspan chief executive Gene Murtagh for the second year running, pending the publication of the final Grenfell report.

Kingspan confirmed in early February its involvement in a £150 million (€175.8 million) out-of-court settlement with the UK government related to the Grenfell Tower fire but declined to comment on reports that it had agreed to pay about £4 million as part of the deal. The borough of Kensington and Chelsea and builders Rydon were said to be the two largest contributors.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times