Daily ESG Briefing: Nordea bags $550m ESG mandate from pension investor Velliv

The latest developments in sustainable finance

Danish pension firm Velliv will put $550m into an ESG-focused emerging markets sovereign debt fund from Nordea Asset Management. The Emerging STARS Bond strategy, is an active fund that excludes countries that display high ESG risks. Velliv used to be part of the Nordea Group under the name Nordea Liv & Pension, but in 2018 the bank decided to divest its pension arm, turning Velliv into a mutual.  

Research by NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business and Rockefeller Asset Management has found a positive correlation between ESG activities and a company’s financial performance. There was a positive relationship between the two in 58% of companies, with 8% showing a negative relationship. The aggregate study also found that ESG disclosure without an accompanying investment strategy did not drive financial performance. 

More than 30 senior state pension fund officials in the US have written to Vanguard, State Street, JP Morgan Asset Management and BNY Mellon, calling on them to account for their political donations to members of Congress who opposed the presidential election results. The five asset managers, together with Blackrock (who was targeted by the group earlier this month), allegedly donated more than $1m to the 147 members of Congress from 2016-2020. The letter also asks the asset managers to explain why they opposed shareholder resolutions requesting more disclosure on political spending at a number of S&P 500 companies last year.

The European Central Bank is under pressure from the European Parliament to align its collateral framework with climate risks, to disclose its level of alignment with the Paris Agreement and to examine the alignment in the banking sector. MEPs voted in favour of a non-binding resolution on the topic yesterday. The ECB is expected to respond in the spring.

Danish pensions company P+ is to divest from 12 mining, energy and chemical companies that have failed to meet its responsible investment policy. The two largest planned divestments are from mining companies Freeport-McMoran and Barrick Gold over their use of riverine tailings disposal, a practice banned in most developed countries.

Norges Bank Investment Management and CalSTRS have said they will back a shareholder resolution at Tyson Foods, asking the firm to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its workers after reports of high Covid-19 infection rates at its factories. Now Blackrock, Columbia Threadneedle, State Street, Geode Capital Management, Vanguard, Invesco, Aristotle, LSV AM, T. Rowe Price and Northern Trust – Tyson’s 10 biggest shareholders – are under pressure from 120 workers and advocacy groups to follow suit and declare their support for the proposal ahead of the AGM tomorrow (Friday). Blackrock declined to disclose its vote, but highlighted its previous vote against the management on a supply chain due diligence proposal.

A defamation lawsuit brought by Australian mining company Mineral Commodities against six environmental activists, including Tracey Davis, the Executive Director of shareholder campaign group Just Share, has been thrown out by the South African High Court. In her judgement, Deputy Judge President Patricia Goliath said that “corporations should not be allowed to weaponise our legal system against the ordinary citizen and activists in order to intimidate and silence them”.

Canada’s Manifest Climate – known until recently as Mantle 314 – has raised $6.5m in seed funding from a number of technology investors including Active Impact Investments and OMERS Ventures. The funding will go towards the development of a climate risk disclosure platform that assists companies with TCFD aligned reporting.