J.P. Morgan assesses 251 deals for environmental, social risks as bruising AGM looms

Bank’s CSR report comes ahead of next week’s shareholder meeting

Investment bank J.P. Morgan Chase says it assessed 251 of its transactions for environmental and social risks in 2012 – and that it is conducting portfolio-level assessments to evaluate “key sustainability challenges” in certain industries, and engaging with its clients on solutions.

The bank – whose potentially bruising annual general meeting takes place next week – also said it “helped deploy” over $5bn of capital for alternative energy and clean technology companies and projects last year. The figures come in its new corporate social responsibility report.

The bank added that it has developed a risk assessment framework to help it understand the environmental and social impacts of its investments in hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

The report also reveals that the bank has almost $50m of commitments to impact investing funds. These include MicroVest II ($10m commitment), LeapFrog ($10m), IGNIA ($5m), Bridges Social Entrepreneurs Fund ($3m) and African Agricultural Capital ($8m).

It comes as the bank faces opposition from investors at its AGM on May 21. Attention is focusing around a motion calling for an independent chairman put forward by the AFSCME Employees Pension Plan, the

Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds, Hermes Equity Ownership Services and the New York City Pension Funds.The more than $320bn shareholder group points to the “London Whale” trading scandal but says it’s “not intended as a referendum on Jamie Dimon’s leadership as CEO or fitness as a director, but solely on his continued service as chair”.
Advisory firm Glass Lewis has recommended a vote in favour and major institutional investors such as the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) and Australia’s First Super have reportedly said they would would back it. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Dimon would quit the bank if the vote goes against him.
Five US institutional investors have made their voting intentions known ahead of the meeting on the Proxy Democracy site. Calvert Social Index, Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS), Domini, the AFSMCE and Trillium Asset Management have all supported the independent chairman motion.
Union-linked body CtW Investment Group is calling on fellow shareholders to vote against the re-election of directors James Crown, Ellen Futter, David Cote, and Laban Jackson. CtW says they, as members of the Risk Policy Committee, bear responsibility for London Whale.

There are also resolutions on genocide-free investing and the disclosure of lobbying payments, the latter proposed by the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia.