Aviva Investors chief ups ante on CSR and responsible investment

Fund manager launches renewable energy infrastructure fund.

Alain Dromer, chief executive officer of Aviva Investors, has called on global stock markets to increase the pressure on listed companies to adhere to common governance and corporate responsibility standards by asking them to comply or explain under their listing rules. In a sign that fund managers are upping the ante on responsible investment and corporate social responsibility (CSR) issues, Dromer, who heads the £235bn fund manager, one of Europe’s largest, owned by Aviva, the world’s fifth largest insurance group, said: “I would like to see all stock market listing authorities make it a listing requirement that companies must evaluate the responsibility and sustainability of their business model, and either put a forward looking sustainability strategy to the vote at their AGM or explain why they were unable to do so.”
Significantly, he said the fund manager would integrate responsible investment into all its own investment management contracts and AGM voting policies. Speaking at the annual TBLI conference in Amsterdam, Dromer said this meant clients would be able to see how far Aviva had incorporated integration of environmental, social and governance factors into its investmentprocess under its commitment to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI). He said: “SRI is a commercially important part of our business and we are active in research which supports environmental, social and corporate governance issues. Our SRI experience delivers tangible client benefits, so we will continue to build on our already strong track record of involvement in SRI and corporate governance.”
He said Aviva Investors would extend its AGM voting on corporate responsibility factors to all global holdings on the MSCI world index. The fund manager already weighs up CSR issues when voting at company AGMs for FTSE 100, FTSE 350 and Eurofirst 300 holdings. Dromer also announced the launch of the European Renewable Energy Fund, an infrastructure fund specialising in developing and financing renewable energy projects in the European Union. The fund’s portfolio will include solar photovoltaic, geothermal, biomass, biogas and wind assets. “These initiatives stem from our strong belief that better long-term investment returns come from companies that are well governed and with responsible management practices,” said Dromer.