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RI Briefing, June 1: Germany’s DZ Bank launches sustainability ratings

RI’s regular Wednesday round-up of responsible investing news

DZ Bank, Germany’s fifth largest bank, has developed its own sustainability ratings system that can be used by institutional investors, asset managers and cooperative banks. All 334 stocks in DZ’s equities universe will now be rated – including those in the DAX, MDAX, SDAX and TecDAX indices. “We are supplementing our classic securities analysis in order to provide investors with all the information they need to select sustainable investments,” said Stefan Bielmeier, Head of DZ BANK Research.

The United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment has passed the 900 signatory mark. There are now a total of 905 institutions that have signed up to the initiative, among the latest being the Swiss pension fund Pensionskasse Stadt Zürich, Danske Invest, WestLB Mellon Asset Management (Germany) and Spain’s Consultora de Pensiones y Previsión Social (CPPS).

Two Australian super fund signatories to the UN PRI have announced merger talks. South Australia’s Local Super and Statewide Super said the government’s recent Cooper review had encouraged superannuation funds to consider merger and acquisition opportunities. The merged entity would have a combined A$4.1bn (€3bn) in assets.
A new corporate governance service for institutional investors has been launched in India. InGovern Research Services’ new InGovern Corporate Governance Platform is a proxy vote analysis offering which lets users analyse companies, do research on shareholder meetings, exercise votes and collaborate with other investors.
Prince Charles’ Accounting for Sustainability Project and the Global Reporting Initiative are conducting an online survey of investors seeking to find out how they currently access financial and extra-financial information, and how current behaviour might shape the form of reporting in future.

Sweden’s GES Investment Services and Australia’s SIRIS have extended their Asian corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) analysis and engagement partnership. The two analysis firms first collaborated in 2000. They have extended their partnership “due to increasing interest for Responsible Investment in the Asia-Pacific region”.The University of California, Santa Barbara is set to become one of the first public schools in the US to approve of the creation of a responsible investment committee, according to the Responsible Endowments Coalition. Similar developments are underway at universities in Arizona, Chicago, Oregon and Boston.
JP Morgan Asset Management has launched an ethical fund, the Luxembourg-domiciled JPM Global Catholic Ethical Balanced SICAV. It aims to “provide long-term capital growth by investing primarily in a portfolio of global equities and debt securities issued by EU governments, that satisfy certain ethical criteria, including environmental, social, corporate governance and Catholic principles” as defined by ESG research and data firm ECPI. Managed by Gareth Witcomb and Hugo Alexander, it was launched on May 19 and currently stands at €4.2m. Link

AllianzGI Investments Europe, the European investment platform of Allianz Global Investors, says it has passed through the €10bn mark in managed and advised SRI assets. The manager said the level had risen by 54.4% in one year from €6.8bn at December 31, 2010 to €10.5bn by March 31, 2011, including almost €2.5bn invested in open-ended funds. It said the rise was mainly linked to the development of advisory business for French and European institutional clients.

Campaign groups Publish What You Pay and Eurodad (European Network on Debt and Development) have launched a briefing paper, Natural resource transparency: call for urgent EU action on corporate reporting standards. They are calling on the European Union to propose legally binding measures to require natural resource companies to publish key financial information for each country and project in which they operate.

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange is hosting an event on June 2 organised by the ministries of the environment and finance on the topic “From GDP to BP – Environmental risk in Investment – why is it important and how can it be integrated?” Among the speakers are Rob Lake, Director of Strategic Development at the UN PRI and Stephen Hine, Head of Responsible Investment Development at EIRIS.