Daily ESG Briefing: Aflac puts $2.1bn into sustainable infra via Denham Capital

The latest developments in sustainable finance

Aflac Global Investments, the $129bn asset management arm of insurer Aflac Incorporated, has put $2bn into a new sustainable infrastructure debt platform from Denham Capital. As part of the strategic partnership, Aflac will take a 24.9% stake in Denham’s Sustainable Infrastructure Platform and will put $100m into the platform’s next equity fund. Denham Capital manages more than $10bn in assets across private equity and credit. Its sustainable infrastructure investments are focused on renewables, energy storage, water and resources assets.  

HSBC, Moody’s ESG, KPMG and S&P Global are amongst 18 founding members of the Australian Sustainable Finance Institute, which will replace the current Australian Sustainable Finance Initiative. The new, permanent body will coordinate the delivery of the sustainability roadmap developed by the initiative. The founding directors are Katharine Tapley, Head of Sustainable Finance at ANZ; Michelle McPherson, CFO at Insurance Australia Group; and Kristian Fok, CIO of Cbus Super Fund. 

Meanwhile, the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors has warned of a “race to the middle” in its inaugural review of the country’s new Modern Slavery Act. An assessment of 151 companies within the ASX 200 shows that, while most are complying with the minimum requirements under the new law, less than half identified how key policies are communicated or enforced, with only 13% outlining details about training and 33% elaborating on supply chain risk assessments.

More than 10 organisations in the UK have added their names to a pledge to ‘green’ their pension funds. Tesco, the International Institute for Environment & Development, and OVOEnergy are amongst the new signatories to Make My Money Matter’s Green Pension Charter, which requires signatories to engage with trustees and pension providers on how their staff pension schemes can commit to reaching Net Zero before 2050. 

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is running the second phase of its Digital Sandbox pilot, a collaboration with the City of London Corporation to support start-ups developing ESG data and disclosure tools. Applications will open in September.

BlackRock supported 47% of environmental and social-based shareholder proposals, and voted against 255 directors and 319 over climate related concerns, according to its 2021 voting overview. The asset manager undertook 2,150 engagements over board quality and effectiveness, and said it voted against 1,862 directors at 975 companies over concerns related to board diversity. 

Board-level diversity is good for boardroom culture and performance, according to research from the UK’s Financial Reporting Council. The study, undertaken in conjunction with London Business School, the Leadership Institute and SQW, added that “diversity without active inclusion is unlikely to encourage new talent to the board”.

BHP Group is considering exiting oil and gas, according to Bloomberg. The Australian miner is said to be reviewing its petroleum business and considering options, including a trade sale.