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RI Briefing, April 27: Putnam Investments signs up to UN PRI

RI’s regular Wednesday round-up of responsible investing news

Putnam Investments, the long-established Boston-based fund firm with $127bn (€86bn) in assets under management, has signed up to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment. Putnam, which has 111 institutional clients, is a subsidiary of Winnipeg-based Great-West Lifeco. Among other new signatories is Alliance Trust, the UK investment trust with nearly £2.6bn in assets.

Henderson Global Investors has decided not to merge its £225m (€267m) Global Care Growth fund with its £107m (€127m) Industries of the Future fund after surveying clients. The asset manager had said the combined fund would have greater leverage in advocating social and environmental practices at investee companies.

A new review The State of Play in Sustainability Reporting in the European Union has been published. The 172-page study is part of a project for the European Commission to support the High Level Group on Corporate Social Responsibility. It was led by German think tank Adelphi.

Community investing – where capital from investors and lenders is directed to those underserved by traditional financial services – is poised to become more widely visible because of a range of factors, according to the Social Investment Forum. Research Director Meg Voorhes said: “It is exciting to see a new wave of interest in community investing as foundations and other institutions look for investments that will have high social impact.” Release

Australia’s Construction, Forestry, Mining, and Energy Union (CFMEU) is calling for stricter sustainability reporting requirements for major Australian companies to accurately report their labour practices to shareholders and the public. The union recently released its 2010 Labour Practices in Sustainability Reporting report evaluating 10 major Australian companies and found they generally fail to accurately report on key issues such as workplace safety and representation.A team from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University has won the 2011 Impact Investing Challenge with their proposal for an Indian grain depot fund. The idea is to address storage problems in the Indian agriculture sector. Twelve student teams from MBA programs had pitched their investment ideas to a panel of experienced investors.

Credit Suisse says the April 4-15 issue of its Green Property fund (CS REF Green Property) “met with very strong demand from investors”. It said the targeted maximum volume of CHF309m (€240.5m) was significantly exceeded by around 90%. Link

UKSIF, the sustainable investment and finance association, wants the Financial Services Authority, the UK regulator, to show more understanding of modern sustainable and responsible investment. UKSIF was responding to the FSA’s discussion paper on Product Intervention. UKSIF would like the FSA to recognise the needs of religious investors and others seeking to reflect their values and social priorities in their investments.

The Global Reporting Initiative has opened a public comment period on the final draft of the Oil & Gas Sector Supplement – a version of the GRI’s Reporting Guidelines tailored especially for oil and gas firms. The period runs until July 20.

Think tank SustainAbility and researcher GlobeScan has surveyed sustainability experts about which sectors of society, which companies, and which visionary individuals are most effectively advancing the sustainability agenda. The results are available here

The Ontario Securities Commission is considering requirements to give investors direct input on how corporate executives are compensated. The province’s Institute of Corporate Directors, however, argues that compensation decisions should be left in the hands of qualified directors.