* Bluebell campaigned for a year to halt Solvay plant
* CEO Kadri in "total denial" over impact, Bluebell says
* Solvay says discharge harmless, all within regulations
* Kadri has full support of board, says chairman
LONDON, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Activist Bluebell Capital
Partners has urged Belgian chemicals company Solvay to
replace Chief Executive Ilham Kadri, saying she had failed to
stop the discharge into the sea of waste from a soda ash
production plant in Italy.
The move is part of Bluebell's campaign aimed at creating
change at companies it says are falling short on environmental,
social and governance (ESG) issues and reflects a growing trend
among activists to target companies over ESG shortcomings.
Bluebell began engaging with Solvay in September 2020 over
the damage it says is being caused by the dumping into the sea
of soda ash waste from Solvay's Rosignano factory.
Solvay has a website https://www.solvay.com/en/rosignano
dedicated to explaining the issue. It says the discharge is
harmless and non-toxic, and the process complies with all
relevant laws. The board chairman also said Kadri had the
board's full support.
Unlike Bluebell's successful bid to remove the boss of
French food group Danone, from which the activist
investor profited, the Solvay campaign is effectively pro bono,
aiming to galvanise other investors interested in sustainability
In its letter to Solvay's board seen by Reuters, Bluebell
said Kadri was in "total denial" over the environmental and
social impact of the discharge at the centre of the dispute.
"Any responsible CEO committed to sustainability, should
stop the company from annually dumping on the shore and then
into the sea up to 250,000 tons of its production wastes," it
said, adding that it should stop even though the company
described the materials as non-toxic or inert.
"We at Bluebell have finally lost faith, trust, and
confidence in CEO Kadri, and we urge the board to exercise its
stewardship by initiating the process to empower a new
leadership," it said, adding that Bluebell had waited a year for
action by the CEO but this had not been forthcoming.
Solvay's Chairman Nicolas Boël said in a statement that
Kadri had the board's "full support".
"Since her appointment in 2019, she has taken decisive
action to shape the companys strategy and align its portfolio
with powerful sustainability trends, while also implementing an
ambitious new sustainability program, Solvay One Planet," he
Bluebell declined to outline its next steps.
More investors have been seeking out companies with a good
ESG performance or have pushed for change at laggards.
U.S.-based activist Engine No. 1 secured support this year
from investors for its bid to replace several board members at
Exxon Mobil over the oil major's handling of climate issues.
In Germany, activist ENKRAFT has taken a stake in RWE and
has called for the energy firm to spin out its brown coal
activities, which have weighed on its share price.
(Reporting by Simon Jessop; Editing by John O'Donnell and