RI Briefing, June 3: Hermes, UNEP FI, Ethos, Church Commissioners

RI’s regular round-up of the most important responsible investment news

Hermes, the asset manager owned by the BT Pension Scheme, eyes an “investor collective” role for its Equity Ownership Services arm, according to a newspaper interview with chief executive Rupert Clarke. “It has the potential to be an investor collective, to engage on a wide range of issues,” he told the Independent. The paper added Clarke is considering changing the EOS name as it has ambitions beyond listed equities.

The UNEP Finance Initiative’s Asset Management Working Group and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development have released Translating ESG into sustainable business value on communicating ESG performance to the capital markets.

Proxy voting advisory specialists Ethos of Switzerland and Proxinvest of France have set up an alliance to pool their expertise. “With a 20% participation of Ethos in the capital of Proxinvest, the two institutions hope to reinforce their positions as the Swiss and French market leaders in the field of services,” the pair said. The collaboration will see “synergy benefits”.

The UK’s £4.8bn (€5.7bn) Church Commissioners plan to introduce an “improved” proxy voting system this year to “enable us to vote consistently in line with our principles across all of our global share holdings”. The Commissioners, who have a £200m mandate with Al Gore’s Generation Investment Management and £9m in the Impax Environmental Markets trust, are in the process of signing up to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment. Annual report

Companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange now have to produce an integrated report in place of their annual financial report and sustainability report. The move was one of the recommendations of the King Code of Governance (King III). The Integrated Reporting Committee has been formed to set good practice in the area, chaired by Professor Mervyn King himself. Link*Swiss sustainability rating* agencies INrate and Centre Info have completed their previously announced merger. They will operate under the Inrate name but keep their existing teams and offices in Zurich and Fribourg. They will serve clients across Europe with a focus on Switzerland, Germany and France.

Canada’s OPTrust, the C$11bn (€8.6bn) fund for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, has become a signatory to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment. The 82,000-member fund said the move was consistent with its new Statement of Responsible Investing Principles. Release

The International Standards Organisation has approved its social responsibility standard, ISO 26000, for release as a final draft, opening the way for it to become a recognised International Standard by the end of year. The ISO’s Working Group on Social Responsibility approved the draft at a meeting in Copenhagen in May.

Oil giants BP and Royal Dutch Shell were among 12 companies removed from the NASDAQ OMX CRD Global Sustainability 50 Index at its half-yearly re-ranking. Also ejected were ABB, Barrick Gold Corp., BT Group, Reed Elsevier, Pfizer, Royal Bank Of Canada, Siemens, Statoil, Vodafone Group and Westpac Banking Corp. The index aims to be a benchmark for firms leading sustainability performance reporting.

The UN Global Compact and the Global Reporting Initiative are to work together to “align their work in advancing corporate responsibility and transparency”. GRI will work on the former’s Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. The Global Compact will adopt the GRI Guidelines as the recommended reporting framework for companies on its corporate responsibility platform. The duo have collaborated on a report Carrots and sticks –promoting transparency and sustainability, an update on trends in sustainability reporting.