RI Briefing, Nov. 30: Global Reporting Initiative names new chairman

RI’s regular round-up of responsible investing news

Herman Mulder has been named chairman of the Global Reporting Initiative, the organisation behind the GRI sustainability reporting framework. Mulder, who takes over from Professor Mervyn King, is a member of the board of the Dutch National Contact Point (NCP) of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and a former senior executive vice president at ABN AMRO. He’s now an independent board member focusing on sustainable development. The GRI has also named Anita Normark as vice chairman; she was General Secretary of the Building and Wood Workers International from 2001 to 2009.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is to make it mandatory for listed companies to submit Business Responsibility Reports within their annual reports, describing any measures they have taken to meet the Ministry of Corporate Affairs’ National Voluntary Guidelines on Social, Environmental and Economic Responsibilities of Business. “To start with, the requirement will be applicable to top 100 companies in terms of market capitalisation and would be extended to other companies in a phased manner,” SEBI said.

The European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ) has published research from research centre DanWatch on the impact of Denmark’s legislation on corporate social responsibility reporting. The study looks into the reports of 50 major Danish companies in five different sectors before and after the adoption of Danish CSR reporting rules. The ECCJ says the report’s findings show that “this type of soft-law is not enough to improve corporate accountability”. Link

LGT Capital Management, the family office of the Princely House of Liechtenstein, has signed up to the United Nations Principles of Responsible Development. It follows fellow LGT Group business, alternatives specialist LGT Capital Partners, in signing up to the PRI.

Deutsche Bank’s international asset management division has been priced at €2.5bn by investment bank Goldman Sachs, according to a report in Financial News. Deutsche confirmed earlier this month that the funds arm was under review.
News and data firm Bloomberg’s new ESG Valuation Tool enables users to apply a financially based methodology to assess and value the impact of environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) factors on corporate earnings and share price. It identifies 13 ESG Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), quantifies each of the company’s impacts and applies a pricing factor to them – giving a basic model to calculate ESG-adjusted earnings and share price valuation.The Investment Management Association, the funds industry body, has refuted the “myth” that fund managers hold shares for excessively short periods. In a submission to the Kay Review into market short-termism, the IMA points out that market turnover is dominated by “ultra-short term participants” like hedge funds – while traditional long-only managers account for just 25% of trade volumes. The IMA says 42% of long-only funds’ holdings by value have been held for at least five years. Link

The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) has published a case study looking at a Tanzanian farm investment made by four impact investors. Improving Livelihoods, Removing Barriers: Investing for Impact in Mtanga Farms seeks to broaden understanding of impact investing as a way to complement government aid and philanthropic funding for sustainable agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa.

Brazilian exchange BM&FBOVESPA has announced the latest version of its Corporate Sustainability Index (ISE) for 2012. The new portfolio is composed of 51 stocks from 38 companies, representing a combined market capitalization of BRL961bn (€395bn), or 43.7% of the total for companies traded on the exchange. Link

The Finnish parliament has voted by 110-47 to ratify the Ottawa Convention, the international treaty banning the use of anti-personnel landmines – making it the last European Union country to do so. The move came despite opposition from the nationalist Finns Party, according to an AFP report. The country had delayed signing the accord over fears it could comprise defences.

Canada: Credit union Vancity and the C$750m (€548m) Vancouver Foundation have launched the ‘Resilient Capital Program’, which includes a new product for depositors who want to make a guaranteed fixed return on their money while backing social enterprises. It will make up to C$15m of “patient capital” available for qualifying social enterprises.

The amount of socially responsible investing (SRI) assets has risen by almost a third over the past year in Germany, Austria and Switzerland according to research from the sustainable investment group Forum Nachhaltige Geldanlagen (FNG), reported on IPE.com. The study found the share of SRI assets increased by €14bn to €51.9bn in 2010.

The Occupy London movement has issued its first set of demands. In a policy statement, the group said it wants an end to tax havens, full transparency in corporate lobbying transparency – to be enforced by an independent regulator – and personal accountability for executives. “This is the first policy statement of many – expect more in the coming months,” it said.