RI Briefing, August 17: Japan’s SRI market now worth €7.8bn – SIF-Japan

RI’s regular round-up of responsible investment news

The Japanese SRI market is worth JPY861bn (€7.8bn), according to the latest available data from SIF-Japan, the Japanese Social Investment Forum. The calculation of ‘SRI’ assets under management is as of June 2011 and JPY348bn was invested in equity funds. Of the total, JPY489bn is in retail assets, while JPY235bn is in institutional money.

Campaign group FairPensions has said investors should be concerned about the “lack of transparency” from oil major Shell over the current North Sea oil spill, saying there are echoes of rival BP’s response to the Gulf of Mexico disaster last year. “It may be time for a board member to make a public statement to show that this is being dealt with at the highest level,” said Louise Rouse, FairPensions’ Director of Engagement.
FairPensions has also put together a set of guides for shareholder campaigning aimed at NGOs, unions and civil society with the aid of the Network for Social Change. Link

Private equity firms 3i and Permira have become signatories to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment. Other new members include sustainability boutique Temporis Capital, the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA), hedge fund consultancy Albourne Partners and the UFCW International Union Pension Plan for Employees. The PRI now has 929 signatories.

TIAACREF, the $453bn (€314.6bn) academic, research, medical and cultural sector retirement provider, has written to clients to reassure them of its financial strength despite the “current market turmoil”. Teresa Hassara, Head of Institutional Client Services, wrote to participants on August 11 saying: “Our claims-paying ability remains very strong, and we’re fully prepared to meet our financial obligations to policyholders.”

Insurance giant Aviva has announced the sale of its Aviva Investors’ Australian equity business – with some A$5.5bn (€4bn) in assets under management – to nabInvest, National Australia Bank’s direct asset management business. Aviva Investors’ strategy is to focus on its Asian regional hub in Singapore.French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel have announced plans for a financial transaction tax, which they said would ensure that the financial sector makes a fairer contribution to public accounts. The European Commission has said it intends to put forward concrete proposals for discussion on the tax in the coming weeks.

The issuance of Sukuk (Islamic bonds) amounted to $5bn (€3.5bn) in July, according to a report from Kuwait Finance House cited by Kuwaiti news wire KUNA. The figure was 37% down on the previous month but 133% up over the year, putting annual issuance at $52.1bn

Police in London have identified hundreds of “boiler room” ethical investment sales scams, according to a report in the Sunday Times. It said gangs are conning investors out of an estimated £300m a year. A TV report on the issue is to be broadcast on ITV1 on August 26, it added.

The Bellagio Initiative is a new effort, led by the Institute of Development Studies, the Resource Alliance and the Rockefeller Foundation, to bring together philanthropy and international development. It plans global consultations on climate change, emerging markets, sustainability, migration and rights ahead of a summit at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Centre, Italy, on November 8-22. Link

Marsh & McLennan Companies, the parent of consulting firm Mercer, is to host a briefing to review its first ever corporate citizenship report later this month. The event will include an overview on the company’s sustainability, diversity and corporate social responsibility strategy. It features Elizabeth Barry, Chief Sustainability Officer, Kathryn Komsa, Chief Diversity Officer, and Christine M. Salerno, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and takes place at the firm’s HQ in New York on August 23. Link

SAM, the Zurich-based sustainable funds firm, says it has improved its Company Benchmarking Reports, which it has offered since 2006. In the future, it says, quantitative and qualitative feedback will be a standard feature of the reports. Link group.com/en/sustainability-services/index.jsp