Renewables firm co-owned by New Zealand Super Fund partners with Facebook on solar project

Transaction comes amid investor campaign against social network

A renewables firm co-owned by the NZ$41bn (€24.5bn) New Zealand Superannuation Fund has partnered with Facebook on a new US solar project.

It comes after the fund has spearheaded an investor campaign against the social media giant over the livestreaming of the Christchurch terror attacks.

The partnership is via Boston-based Longroad Energy, in which NZ Super has a 40% stake. Under the deal, Longroad is partnering with Facebook to complete the financing of a $416m facility in Texas.

Following the attacks in March, NZ Super CEO Matt Whineray committed to pushing tech behemoths to “take more responsibility for what is published on their platforms”.

So far, over 50 investors globally representing $3.3trn in assets have thrown their weight behind that campaign.

The aftermath of the attacks has also seen NZ Super exclude makers of civilian automatic and semi-automatic firearms amid new legislation.

A spokesperson for NZ Super told RI that there is “no issue” with partnerships like the one between Longroad and Facebook.

“In fact”, he said, “we welcome Facebook’s commitment to sourcing renewable energy for its operations.”The fund’s campaign against social media firms, he added, is “about engagement, not exclusion” and is “separate” from Longroad’s Facebook deal.

NZ Super’s investment in Longroad, which is managed by alternatives asset manager, Morrison & Co., dates back to 2016.

“We welcome Facebook’s commitment to sourcing renewable energy for its operations.”

“Renewables is a sector that NZ Super Fund have a strong interest in given our climate change objectives,” said NZ Super’s spokesperson.

The day after the solar partnership was announced, 68% of Facebook’s independent shareholders supported a resolution calling for Facebook to separate the CEO and chairman roles that are both held by founder Mark Zuckerberg.

“Facebook’s insular boardroom must be cracked open because the company has no accountability to its users, its investors, or our democracy,” said New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer following the vote.