RI Briefing, January 18: UN PRI signatory managers sought by Danish pension funds

RI’s regular round-up of responsible investing news

A United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UN PRI) signatory firm is preferred for two new investment mandates being tendered on behalf of three Danish pension funds. The request, on the IPE-Quest [registration required] mandate search system, is for $125m in Japanese equities and $100m in Latin American equities. “We prefer a UN PRI compliant asset manager or alternatively a manager who has similar ethical guidelines,” the search states. The closing dates are January 30 and February 1 respectively.

A new socially responsible investing (SRI) index series has been launched in Switzerland. It has been put together by Geneva-based wealth management group BBGI and research firm Covalence EthicalQuote. They said the BBGI-EthicalQuote Swiss Equities Indices are “the first genuine and objective benchmarks” of the SRI sector in Switzerland. The indices reweigh the Swiss Market Index and the Swiss Performance Index via an inclusive ethical approach and a principle of investment diversification. Announcement

The French SIF (FIR) has invited submissions for its 7th Finance and Sustainability European Research Award for students and researchers. The FIR Award consists of three awards of €5,000 for best Master’s thesis award, best PhD thesis award and best published academic article. It also awards three research grants valued at €3,000 aimed to promote practically relevant academic research and development of responsible investment scholarship. The submission deadline is April 22 with the final award ceremony taking place in Paris on September 26. Online submissions can be made at: Link

More than 30 US civil society and business groups have written to every member of the House of Representatives and Senate opposing any amendments to the flagship Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Signatories include: Amnesty International, Calvert Investments, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, EarthRights International, Global Financial Integrity, Global Witness, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam America and Transparency International. Link

Consulting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu has called on corporate boards to “view corporate sustainability as more than just good corporate citizenship, but as an integral component of an organization’s business strategy”. The remarks come its new The Sustainable Board white paper, part of the “Intelligent Board” series from the Deloitte Global Center for Corporate Governance. Link*Industrial group Parker Hannifin* could be re-admitted to the Calvert Social Index. Socially responsible fund firm Calvert said it has reviewed the company and that it now meets the index’s standards for weapons. The recommendation will be discussed at the Calvert Social Index Committee meeting in March.

The carbon footprints of the 10 most popular investment funds – and top companies – in South Africa have been analysed by sustainable investment consultants SinCo. Its ‘Dirty Feet: Portfolio Carbon’, which describes the exposure to carbon costs of the 40 largest listed companies and major pooled equity investment funds, was commissioned from environmental research firm Trucost. Link

Tech giant Apple says it is encouraging its suppliers to be transparent and disclose their environmental performance to the public. “In 2012, we will require suppliers representing more than 90 percent of Apple’s final assembly capacity to index their sustainability reports to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI),” it said in its new Supplier Responsibility 2012 Progress Report. Link

Canada’s Social Investment Organization (SIO) has decided to retain its name after surveying members. “After surveying members of the SIO, the board believes that there is strength in the SIO name and in the SRI brand,” the group’s executive director Eugene Ellmen said in a letter to members, quoted by SRI Monitor.

Hermes Fund Managers, the asset manager owned by the BT Pension Scheme, has chosen MSCI’s Barra Portfolio Manager software system for risk management, portfolio analysis, portfolio construction and optimization. Financial details of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Edhec-Risk Institute has presented the findings of its report titled, Performance of Socially Responsible Investment Funds against an Efficient SRI Index: The Impact of Benchmark Choice when Evaluating Active Managers, which was published at the end of 2011. Link

Figures from BoardWatch, the lobby group, show that 15 UK-listed companies have met Lord Davies’ recommended 25% female director target, pushing total female board member representation in the FTSE100 to 14.9% and FTSE250 to 9.2%. UK listed companies will be legally obliged to report on their efforts to appoint more female directors from October.