Elior Group appoints Kimberly Stewart as head of investor relations
Elior Group, the global catering firm based in France, has announced the appointment of Kimberly Stewart as head of investor relations.
It is the latest in a string of IR head roles for Stewart, who has previously run the IR function at Solvay, Technip – where she spent almost nine years – and Faurecia.
Prior to IR, Stewart worked as a sell-side analyst. She began her career with PaineWebber in New York, before moving to Credit Suisse and later Crédit Agricole Indosuez Cheuvreux, where she held roles in London and Paris.
Speaking to IR Magazine, Stewart says one of her first tasks will be the forthcoming full-year results announcement, after which she plans to conduct a perception study of the investment community.
‘I need to identify whether there is any disconnect between Elior’s perceived strengths and those that are perceived by the financial markets,’ she explains. ‘Because unfortunately a company can often think what it is communicating is very clear, but the absorption of that message isn’t always fully taken on.’
Stewart says that, while consultants can be useful for perception studies, she likes to do them herself. ‘I like to reach out and sit down with the investors, face to face, and get to hear what they have to say. Not all of them will open up, but a lot of them will,’ she says.
She advises companies to look beyond their existing shareholder base when conducting this kind of study. ‘Companies often reach out to their shareholders, but miss the people who are not holding the shares,’ she says. ‘I think it’s important to ask, You’re holding our peers – what would it take for you to hold us?’
Turning to the IR community in France, Stewart says there are two hot topics at the moment that people are grappling with. The first is shareholder activism, which is under particular scrutiny this month following the publication of a new report into the subject by Michel Prada, the former head of French market regulator the AMF.
‘[Last year] was a record year for shareholder activism, and the rise of activists, in Europe and France specifically, has become an industry issue that public authorities in particular want to address,’ states the report.
Stewart is part of a working group at French IR association CLIFF investigating how companies should prepare themselves for activist campaigns. ‘We’re looking at how we can help IROs develop a toolbox for what they need to work on with their management, executive committee and board of directors before an activist gets involved,’ she explains.
The other hot topic in the French IR community today is how to communicate about sustainability, says Stewart. ‘Some companies don’t necessarily have the teams or the resources available to do a fully integrated reference document,’ she says.
‘We are thinking about how to work with the investment community to provide those key performance indicators and show how the company is addressing governance issues.’