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RI Briefing, February 1: Man Group hopes others will follow its lead on UN PRI

RI’s regular review of responsible investing news

Man Group, the listed alternative investment house, says its signing up to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment is a signal of its continued commitment to responsible investing. “As a leading alternative asset manager, we hope that by signing up to the UN PRI we will encourage others in our industry to follow our lead,” said CEO Peter Clarke. Link

The FSinsight.org sustainability web portal will be officially launched today in Amsterdam by Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs, Agriculture & Innovation Maxime Verhagen. The founding partners of the initiative are the Duisenberg School of Finance, the Haas School of Business, the Holland Financial Centre, Maastricht University and the National University of Singapore. Link
ATP, the Danish pension fund giant, says it has signed up to the UN Global Compact in its capacity as a company – complementing its backing of the UN PRI as an investor. The Global Compact is a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning with 10 principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. Link to 2011 report

Members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), the US faith-based investor group, are coordinating with local law enforcement to raise awareness of the risks of child sex trafficking during the Super Bowl, which takes place in Indianapolis on February 5. ICCR’s campaign began with the 2010 World Cup in South Africa when investors wrote to hotels, airlines and sponsors. Link

The Warsaw Stock Exchange says its Respect responsible companies index has grown to 23 companies. The index, launched in 2009, is the first socially responsible companies index in the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region. “Sustainable development based on such factors as corporate governance or stakeholder relations is increasingly important,” said exchange CEO Ludwik Sobolewski.

A new microfinance bank is being set up in Nigeria with the banking of the IFC, German development bank KfW, Dutch development bank FMO and Luxembourg-based Advans SA. La Fayette Microfinance Bank in Oyo State is expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2012. Link*The Carbon Disclosure Project,* the not-for-profit organisation which gathers data on behalf of 551 institutional investors with $71trn in assets, says companies have yet to realize significant emissions reductions across their supply chains. A new CDP report, conducted with consulting firm Accenture, on 49 CDP member companies and more than 1,800 of their suppliers revealed that while 43% of respondents have cut emissions, only 28% of suppliers have done so.

The Credit Suisse Research Institute and the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship released a report on impact investing at the World Economic Forum in Davos, entitled: “Investing for Impact: How social entrepreneurship is redefining the meaning of return.” “Today, many philanthropists and investors view Impact Investing as a viable alternative and perhaps a more effective vehicle to create social change than pure charity, ” said Giles Keating, Credit Suisse’s Head of Research for Private Banking and Asset Management.

Desjardins, the Canadian cooperative financial group with assets of nearly C$190bn (€144.8bn), has opened a European representative office in Paris, located at the head office of Crédit Mutuel. It will be headed up by Lucia Baldino.

Ireland’s first MSc in Energy & Environmental Finance course has been launched by University College Dublin’s Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School. The new course starts in September 2012 and is aimed at those who want to pursue a career in the energy and environmental markets sector.

A group of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and scientists has written to Ola Mestad, chairman of the Ethical Council of the Norwegian Government Pension Fund, calling for the fund to disinvest from Royal Dutch Shell, according to a website which monitors Shell. The group says the fund should divest Shell over the “severe environmental and social harm” caused by the oil major’s operations in the Niger Delta, Nigeria.

Sarasin & Partners LLP, the UK-based fund firm with around £13bn (€15.6bn) in client assets under management, has become a signatory to the UN PRI. Swiss parent Bank Sarasin is an existing signatory.