South African government fund’s ESG head Bertrand re-joins PRI as Head of Africa

Adrian Bertrand in second stint at Principles for Responsible Investment

Adrian Bertrand, ESG manager of South Africa’s R1.43trn (€102bn) Government Employees’ Pension Fund, is to join the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) in the role of Head of Africa, Networks & Global Outreach.

Bertrand, who takes up his position on 16 February, will be responsible for strategic initiatives such as engaging with and supporting pan-African signatories with ESG risk management. He will also take a lead role in the growth of the PRI’s African Network. He replaces Xolisa Dhlamini who was South Africa Network Manager at the PRI, who is leaving to study.

Before joining GEPF in 2011, Bertrand spent 18 months as South Africa Network Manager for the PRI, where he supported PRI signatory recruitment in the country.

There are 46 signatories in the country, including five asset owners, 34 investment managers and seven service firms.

At the GEPF, where Bertrand spent four years, he was responsible for managing the fund’s strategy for responsible investing and active ownership. This included developing an appropriate ESG disclosure framework for listed companies and evaluating ESG compliance by GEPF investee companies.

Bertrand has also served on the Investment Committee of the Pan African Infrastructure Development Fund, theGEPF – PIC ESG Working Committee, the Code for Responsible Investing in SA (CRISA) Committee, the Association for Savings and Investment SA Responsible Investment Committee, and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) SRI Index Advisory Committee.

The GEPF has had a number of high-profile exits in recent months. In November, John Oliphant was dismissed from his role as principal executive officer at the fund, Africa’s largest, following a 12-month inquiry into suspected misconduct. RI understands that he is taking up a new role in the private sector.

“We are delighted that Adrian will be our new head of the Africa network,” said Fiona Reynolds, managing director of the PRI. “His extensive knowledge of pan-African ESG issues, coupled with his background working on sustainability and responsible investment projects, ideally places him to head this region.”

Bertrand said: “Africa represents unique opportunities for engaging asset owners and investment managers on ESG issues and for expanding PRI’s signatory base across the Continent.” Bertrand will be based in Johannesburg. The GEPF said it will begin recruiting a replacement. Meanwhile, PRI signatories are now able to vote on a set of revised Articles of Association for the PRI Association, the UK operating arm of the initiative. Voting closes on January 30.