RI Briefing, February 9: Tokio Marine & GO launch Japan engagement fund

Tokio Marine Asset Management and Governance for Owners are to launch a Japan engagement fund with the potential to grow to JPY100bn ($1.2bn, €891m). The TMAM-GO Japan Engagement Fund (JEF) will invest in underachieving quoted companies – using a “Japanese way of engagement” to improve long-term performance. It will invest in 10-30 small to mid-cap firms, aiming to be a leading shareholder in each firm. It will be led by TMAM Managing Director Noboru Akahane. Announcement

Professor Mervyn King, chairman of the Integrated Reporting Committee (IRC) of South Africa, launched the new Framework for Integrated Reporting and the Integrated Report Discussion Paper in Johannesburg last month. The paper – claimed as the world’s first such release on integrated reporting – is open for public comment until April 25. Web site

The Ethos Foundation, the advisory firm owned by Swiss pension funds, has recommended opposing the remuneration system at pharmaceutical giant Novartis. Ethos takes issue with executive management’s variable pay and the lack of detail in incentive plans. The Novartis AGM is on February 22. Link

CalPERS, the $226bn (€165.7bn) California Public Employees’ Retirement System is seeking shareholders’ support for its proposal to have unopposed board candidates at Apple elected by majority vote. The move comes ahead of the iPod maker’s annual meeting on February 23. Meanwhile, Bloomberg News reported CalPERS has sued Lehman Brothers executives and underwriters over claims they hid the bank’s exposure to subprime loans when they sold the fund some $700m in bonds. Link

New York-based research firm Integrity Research is conducting an online survey on the buy-side usage of extra-financial information involving environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. Participants will receive the aggregated results of the completed survey. Responses will be kept strictly anonymous and confidential. Link to survey

United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment signatory AustralianSuper is to merge with fellow Australian super fund Westscheme. The new entity will have 1.7m members and A$40bn (€29.8bn) in assets, according to a statement.The US government’s Small Business Administration is to create a $1bn impact investing fund which will commit to funds “that invest growth capital in companies located in underserved communities”. It also plans a $1bn Early-Stage Innovation Fund as part of the “Startup America” initiative.
Sarasin & Partners LLP, the UK arm of the Swiss private bank, is to disclose how it has voted at company annual general meetings. “We will shortly be publishing our voting records ,” the firm, a signatory to the new Stewardship Code, said on its website. Meanwhile, IPE has quoted Sarasin’s head of asset management Andreas Knörzer as saying the firm is merging products into a “more sustainable offering”.

The Bursa Malaysia exchange has translated its corporate governance guide into Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin Chinese. The exchange says it wants to promote a market of companies which practice corporate governance and sustainability “with diligence and excellence”. Announcement

The Stewardship Action Council is a new Washington, DC-based body bringing together investors, industry, academia and governmental and non-governmental organisations dedicated to “promoting and improving sustainable and socially responsible business practices”. Its Executive Director is Anne Vogel-Marr. Announcement

Outstanding securities class actions reached a new record in Canada in 2010, according NERA Economic Consulting. Trends in Canadian Securities Class Actions: 2010 Update found there were a record 28 active securities class actions, representing some C15.9bn (€11.7bn) in outstanding claims.

GovernanceMetrics International has launched a new executive pay scorecard to help shareholders prepare for the new advisory votes on executive pay at US annual meetings. Site

Calvert’s Sustainability Research Department has recommended adding drinks giant Coca-Cola Co. to its Calvert Social Index, as it now meets the index’s standards for workplace and human rights. “The company has implemented improved policies and programs related to human rights and labour relations, as well as those related to water stewardship and product safety,” Calvert said.