RI Briefing, July 13: SustainAbility concludes ‘Rate the Raters’ project

RI’s regular round up of responsible investing news

SustainAbility has concluded its ‘Rate the Raters’ project. The consultancy says corporate sustainability ratings should be financially viable, compete on analysis and not on data collection and add value. They should also be predictive and forward looking, transparent and focus on core impacts and issues.

The World Bank’s private sector finance arm IFC has launched a new Web portal aimed at advancing the environmental and social performance of financial intermediaries in emerging markets. It’s called Financial Institutions, Resources, Solutions & Tools for Sustainability or “FIRST for Sustainability”.

Morningstar, the investment research company has analysed sustainable bond funds and found that, while there are only six such funds in its database “none of them are compelling options”. Despite this, they tend to be less risky than many of their traditional counterparts, it adds. Equity funds make up over 90% of the sustainable-fund assets in the firm’s database

La Compagnie Financiere Edmond de Rothschild, one of Europe’s oldest private banks, has joined the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI). “We are confident that the decades of experience of La Compagnie Financière Edmond de Rothschild will contribute to enrich the debate on sustainable finance among UNEP FI members,” said UNEP FI head Paul Clements-Hunt. Brazil’s Banco Industrial e Comercial SA has also signed up.

There’s been a call for papers on the topic of institutional investors and sustainability as part of the Critical Studies on Corporate Responsibility, Governance and Sustainability series. According to CorpGov.net, the volume will be published in late 2012, with abstracts sought by the end of October 2011.

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ sustainability and climate change practice has won Consultancy of the Year at the Business Green Leaders Awards in London. The firm’s 800-strong sustainability and climate change team works with public and private sector clients, NGOs, private entrepreneurs, policy makers and think tanks.UK Bribery Act came into force on July 1, affecting both UK and non-UK firms that have subsidiaries or other business relationships in the UK or with UK companies. Under the Act, companies can face liability if its executives commit crimes of bribery or if they are judged to have inadequate anti-bribery procedures. Link

More details have emerged about the California Public Employees Retirement System’s ideas about integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues across its entire $232.2bn (€165bn) portfolio. “We want to get practical,” senior portfolio manager Anne Simpson was quoted as saying by Institutional Investor, which added CalPERS is looking at three areas: climate change, human rights and investor ownership issues. The fund is holding an ESG workshop on August 15.

An investment consultant has tendered a $10m (€7.1m) large-cap global equity mandate for an asset manager with an established track record and demonstrated capabilities in ESG via the IPE-Quest manager search system for a Toronto-based client, according to IPE.com. The deadline for applications is July 15.

Polaris Securities Investment Trust Co., the Taiwan-based asset firm, is to launch the first environmental, social and governance (ESG) fund for Taiwan’s retail market, according to a report in Asian Investor. The Emerging Markets ESG Strategy Securities Investment Trust Fund will open from August 29-September 6 and be managed by Lai Yingliang.

Investors are more likely to engage in social investment if it can offer an expectation of market or close to market returns and some guarantee or mitigation of risk while approaching market level returns. These are among the findings of a new report – Investor Perspectives on Social Enterprise Financing – commissioned by the City of London Corporation.