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Daily ESG Briefing: New cleantech investment firm aims for IPO by 2022

The latest developments in sustainable finance

Invest Green, the new cleantech venture capital firm co-founded by Matthew Kiernan, the founder of pioneering ESG research house Innovest, says it aims to list on a major US stock exchange by 2022. The new firm counts Donald MacDonald, the former chair of the Principles for Responsible Investment and the Institutional investors Group on Climate Change, as a principal. Kiernan told RI the aim is to “democratize” cleantech private equity investment, by making it accessible to retail investors and provide “badly-needed development capital to promising, early-stage cleantech entrepreneurs, who are too early for conventional venture capital investors”. The firm will make three to four investments a year, and will profile portfolio companies on a new Invest Green TV series and social media.

Nestlé has launched a four-year action plan aimed at addressing labour rights issues in the palm oil supply chain. The food and beverage company, which used 453,000 mt of palm oil in 2020, will use the new framework to engage with suppliers based on country, labour supply chain and operational risk.

The Principles for Responsible Investment have published a technical guide on TCFD reporting for real assets investors. The guide sets out steps to take for both direct investors and those investing through managers in order to implement the TCFD recommendations, and outlines a series of priorities for each of the TCFD’s four pillars.

European industrial groups have intensified calls for the introduction of a carbon border tax as carbon prices in the EU Emissions Trading System hover at close to €50 a tonne. Axel Eggert, director-general of the European Steel Association, told the FT: “In the past, we did not have a significant problem with the carbon price because it was so low. Now, with the increasing price, we get into a real problem […] our global competitors do not have those carbon constraints”.

The Securities Commission Malaysia has issued an update to its corporate governance code introducing best practices for action on ESG risks and opportunities by company boards and senior management. The Commission also raised concerns over the gender composition of boards. Only 25.3% of board members at the top 100 listed companies are women, missing the recommendation set out in 2017 that listed companies should have at least 30% women on their boards.  

Assets invested in ESG ETFs and ETPs reached $246bn at the end of Q1 2021, according to data from research and consultancy firm ETFGI. Assets increased by $15.08bn in March, bringing net inflows this year to a record $55.84bn.

Stronger coordination by corporates, governments and investors is needed to tilt financing away from the activities most harmful to biodiversity, according to new research by Fitch Ratings. In order to halt biodiversity loss, a global biodiversity reporting framework accompanied by a biodiversity taxonomy should be developed, the rating agency said.

Brunel Pensions Partnership has announced a partnership with research and advisory firm Aksia to invest £945m in private debt. It said that the partnership would “push the boundaries of responsible investment in direct lending” but declined to give any detail on the portfolio’s responsible investment approach. Brunel, a pool of ten local government pension schemes in the west of England, aims to invest in between six and eight private debt funds and has already made a commitment to the European-focused ICG Senior Debt Partners IV fund for an undisclosed sum. 

Three quarters of Independent Investment Management Initiative members believe they will benefit from complying with the EU SFDR, according to research carried out by the initiative. The poll of its members found that 61% felt the SFDR would positively affect competition while 22% said it would negatively affect it. Only 27% of members have hired an ESG specialist to deal with the regulations.