Coronavirus Round-up: ESMA backs longer ban on short selling

The latest news on the Covid-19 outbreak and responsible investment

The European Securities and Markets Authority has come out in support of the decision by supervisors in Spain, France, Greece, Belgium and Austrian to renew bans on short selling to tackle market volatility in the face of the pandemic. The five National Competent Authorities first introduced the rules in March and will maintain them until least May 18, unless there is a significant change in market confidence.  

The Interfaith Centre for Corporate Responsibility has written to 43 apparel and footwear companies asking them to maintain supplier relationships and make prompt payments to suppliers in light of the pandemic. 

Proxy advisor ISS has made changes to its voting recommendation policies in light of COVID-19, including an increased lenience towards virtual or delayed AGMs, shareholder rights plans, compensation issues, and capital structure decisions. The change comes as a response to significant disruptions to the AGM process and stock performance caused by the pandemic. 

The International Monetary Fund has launched a policy response tracker summarising the key monetary and fiscal policy measures taken so far by governments around the world to limit the human and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

ESG-focused investment house Boston Trust Walden Company has revealed that some of its company dialogues on ESG have been paused as a result of COVID-19. The firm is working to introduce a shareholder resolution at an AGM that is transitioning to a virtual format and has published advice to companies including maintaining paid employment and supporting health care institutions, governments and vulnerable populations. 

The Inter-agency Task Force on Financing for Development has launched its 2020 Financing for Sustainable Development Report, noting there was a slowdown in making progress on the SDGs even before Covid-19. However, the UN body’s report explains the pandemic has worsened the situation, and the prospect of a new debt crisis threatens to slow it further. The report includes recommendations on how to prevent this and stabilise financial markets.

Leading social impact investor Big Society Capital (BSC) is providing £100m in emergency support for social sector organisations in disadvantaged parts of the UK, to help them survive Covid-19. Affected organisations will be able to apply for emergency loans and investment without paying any fees or interest for 12 months. BSC is working with the Impact Investing Institute and Social Investment Business to source additional investment from banks and other investors.

Italian Development Bank Cassa depositi e prestiti has issued a social bond dedicated to tackling Covid-19 and sustaining the recovery of the Italian economy and communities. This is the first Covid-19 response bond to be issued in Italy.