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"This is a great opportunity to actively shape a topic of the future"

Five questions for the new First Climate supervisory board members

Since coming on board as an investor in First Climate, HANNOVER Finanz has also appointed two new members to the company's supervisory board. We asked Goetz Hertz-Eichenrode, CEO at HANNOVER Finanz, and Investment Manager, Mirco Thelen, about their goals in connection with their work on the supervisory board and the potential they see in working with First Climate.

From left: Goetz Hertz-Eichenrode and Mirko Thelen

Interview with Goetz Hertz-Eichenrode and Mirco Thelen

What prospects and opportunities do you foresee in the newfound cooperation between HANNOVER Finanz and First Climate?

Goetz Hertz-Eichenrode (GHE): “With our investment in First Climate, we have the opportunity to contribute directly to climate protection and at the same time support a highly specialized company in this field. For us, this is extremely exciting. We believe that we can significantly support the future growth and strategic progress of First Climate. And not only in fundamental business areas: as a financial investor, we are a helpful sparring partner especially when it comes to making decisions about potential acquisitions or cooperation possibilities.”

What inspires you personally about the new partnership with First Climate?

GHE: “On a personal note, sustainability plays an important role for me. That is why I am very pleased to be working with First Climate. This very innovative company has a professional and highly motivated team that, as a pioneer, has shaped the topic of corporate climate protection from the very beginning and continues to significantly drive these issues forward. Of course, this is also thrilling for us, because we can certainly learn a great deal here. I am looking forward to working together, and I am convinced that it will be exciting for us all.”

Mirco Thelen (MT): “Yes, this is a great opportunity to actively shape a topic of the future. With the climate crisis, we are currently facing one of the greatest societal challenges of all time. That is why we will continue to intensify our efforts to reduce and avoid emissions and, in doing so, we will also have to lead the way in initiating any efforts which are technologically possible -- or whatever will be available in the future. Additionally, our efforts will be about enabling and sustainably strengthening climate protection measures and projects in least developed regions. I am wholeheartedly convinced that First Climate is one of the best companies to achieve this.”

The new First Climate AG supervisory board, from left: Jürgen Heilbock, Jochen Knoesel (chairman of the supervisory board), Matthias Werner, Goetz Hertz-Eichenrode, Mirko Thelen, and Olaf Bachert, CEO of First Climate Markets AG

What are your priorities as members of the First Climate supervisory board?

MT: “As a strategic body, the board is an important sparring partner for management and can support key growth strategies. The topics of sustainability and climate protection are, in the meantime, at the top of the agenda in practically all companies. Of course, for First Climate, there are many important decisions to be made and strategic groundwork to be laid in these markets. It will be our job to participate in these discussions on the supervisory board.”

GHE: “Our experience tells us that in a rapidly developing market environment, particular care must be taken to ensure that a company can grow healthily. This is the only way to maintain its value and make gains over the long haul. With this in mind, we bring an immense wealth of experience with us, since we have been supporting companies in similar growth phases for more than 40 years and, thus, have encountered all facets of these challenges repeatedly. Our goal is to support First Climate in this process in the best way possible and further develop together. Naturally, we will also involve our corporate network and investors to promote cooperation and growth at this level as well.”

In your opinion, what voluntary climate protection contributions can industry make? How do you see the importance of this topic at the companies you work with?

GHE: “For the general public, climate protection is often perceived as a topic for younger generations. On the other hand, we've seen that this issue already reached the older generations a while ago, especially when it comes to family-owned businesses. Climate protection is not only seen as a challenge or a burden for the company, but also as an enormous opportunity. It is a critical building block to being able to operate sustainably and profitably in the future.

As far as the commitment of the companies is concerned, I detect - especially in Germany - important inroads in the spheres of innovation, innovation management as well as in new technologies. Above all, within our portfolio companies, we see a lot of very interesting approaches, for example in the field of renewable energies. For me, this is one of the core contributions of the economy - in addition to one's own commitment, which of course every company must make.”

What priorities and goals has HANNOVER Finanz set for itself with regard to climate protection and sustainability for the coming years? Will this orientation also be reflected in the investment portfolio?

GHE: “Like many companies in our investment portfolio, HANNOVER Finanz is a medium-sized and strong, family-run company. And like our portfolio companies, we plan and act from a long-term basis position. Values such as sustainability and social commitment play a vital role for us. Of course, we also adjust our investment decisions accordingly. Many companies in our investment portfolio already operate in a climate-neutral manner. We also follow the Principles for Responsible Investment, or PRI, an initiative of the UN. The aim of PRI is to proactively consider ESG [Environmental, Social, Governance] issues in the analysis and decision-making process about investments and financial assets.”

MT: “As a very specific example: One of our portfolio companies is currently developing a software-based solution that we plant to use in the future to carry out an automated ESG assessment of our portfolio. With this tool, we can establish the status quo and then ultimately integrate it within our regular reporting practices. This will firmly anchor the topic of ESG as part of our value creation, i.e., increase the value of our portfolio. In the future, we will track this factor like any other company specific KPIs and, we also expect to see ongoing improvements across all parameters.”

GHE: “That said, certainly there is always more that can be done to protect the climate, and we continuously motivate our corporate partners and, of course, ourselves to further build up their, as well as our own, level of commitment.”

More details on the backgrounds of the cooperation between HANNOVER Finanz and First Climate here.

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