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November 11, 2021 Webranking

French companies continue to struggle with meeting stakeholder expectations

By Freja Nilsson

In the Webranking 2021-2022, French companies continue to perform below the European average. The companies struggle with providing information about the share, such as disclosing their shareholder compositions. Also, necessary corporate governance information is often missing, such as remuneration policies and insider dealings.

In this year's Webranking, we have ranked the 68 largest companies in France. The French companies continue to perform under the European average; they have received 38.3 points, which is 5.3 points less than the European average of 43.6.

This year, only two of the 68 ranked companies have received more than 60 points, which is the minimum score a company should get to sufficiently fulfill stakeholder expectations. The French companies struggle most with providing information about the share and corporate governance. However, the French companies do a better job providing Careers and About us information, where they have performed on the same level as their European peers.

Detailed information about diversity and equal opportunities

The French companies have performed best when it comes to providing Careers information, where they have on average received 41 points, which are one point better than the European average. The companies are especially good at providing information about diversity and equal opportunities, where 45% include this (compared with the European average of 40%).

One explanation is that French companies are obligated to disclose their equality numbers in the French gender equality index. Companies with more than 250 employees have to calculate their gender pay score using five indicators. Companies with between 50 and 250 employees need to use four indicators.

Alstom provide an extensive diversity and equal opportunities section containing a lot more information than legally required. Alstom have divided their diversity and equal opportunities strategy into four main areas that the user easily can navigate.

Screenshot from Alstom's website

Information about analysts and shareholder composition is often missing

Many French companies struggle with providing sufficient information related to the companies' shares, especially when including details about the analysts following the companies. Only 20% of the ranked French companies disclose which analysts are following the companies' performance and have contact details to them; the European average is 40%.

Vinci include their analysts and consensus estimates in a clear table containing contact details to many different analysts. They also include which recommendation each individual analyst has given.

Screenshot of Vinci's analysts' estimates

French companies also lag behind their European peers when it comes to disclosing major shareholders and the number of shares that are owned by responsible investors. None of the ranked companies has included information about how many of their shares are owned by responsible investors. The companies are slightly better at presenting their other shareholders. 26% do this, but it is still 18% below the European average of 45%.

Rémy Cointreau present their shareholder composition in an easily understandable table showing voting rights in both numbers and percentages. It also contains a date stamp of when it was last updated.

Screenshot from Remy Cointreau's website

Remuneration numbers and insider dealings are required

The French companies have also received relatively low scores when it comes to providing information related to Corporate Governance. For example, information about the companies' remuneration policies is often missing; 14% of the companies include this while the European average is 30%. Investors are often very interested in knowing the remuneration paid to the board of directors, and 82% of the respondents of Comprend's Capital market survey find remuneration in numbers important.

Additionally, few French companies present the latest transactions made by the board (insiders); only 2% of the ranked companies include this. Information about insiders is vital to have for transparency reasons.

ArcelorMittal include clear information about their insiders, showing a history of transactions since 2012. They also provide their policy about insider dealing.

Screenshot of Arcelor Mittal's share transactions

The French top performers

Vinci take the lead in France for the sixth year in a row. Vinci have good About Us information, including for example a video with an introduction to the company. Vinci are also strong in Investor Relations communication which many companies struggle with.

Total have climbed up one placement since last year by improving their score by 3.1 points. They perform very well in terms of Careers information, including a very detailed section summarizing reasons for why one should apply. They also provide extensive sustainability information, such as a dedicated website displaying data on their environmental performance.

Arkema have jumped down one placement since last year, from second to third. Like Total, Arkema include great sustainability information by, for example, clearly displaying their Sustainability targets.

The company that has improved their score the most since last year is Sociéte Générale that have improved their score by 12.5 points by, for example, improving the Careers information.

1VinciEurope 500, France69.9
2TotalEurope 500, France61.6
3ArkemaEurope 500, France56.1
4AxaEurope 500, France51.6
5MichelinEurope 500, France51.3
6SanofiEurope 500, France48.6
7Air LiquideEurope 500, France48.0
8ArcelorMittalEurope 500, Luxembourg, Netherlands, France, Spain47.9
9AirbusEurope 500, France, Germany, Spain, Netherlands47.7
10Sociéte GénéraleEurope 500, France47.3

*Out of 100

See the full results list for France or read more about the Webranking Report.

Helena Wennergren

Helena Wennergren

Senior consultant


+46 70 971 12 10

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