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RI Briefing, September 28: Quebec fund signs up to UN PRI

RI’s regular round-up of responsible investment news

The C$8.2bn (€5.8bn) Quebec development capital fund the Fonds de solidarité FTQ has become a signatory to the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment. The Montreal-based fund adopted the PRI during its annual meeting. It “confirms and reinforces our commitment to socially responsible investing,” said Chairman Michel Arsenault.
The European Commission has adopted a proposal for a Financial Transaction Tax, which it says could generate revenues of over €55 billion per year. Under the proposals, the financial tax would be levied at a rate of 0.1% on all transactions between institutions when at least one party is based in the EU. Derivative contracts would be taxed at a rate of 0.01%.

Novethic, the French CSR and SRI media group has published its annual list of funds having received its SRI label. The list this year comprises 156 funds and Novethic said the number of fund refusals for the label had dropped between 2010 and 2011 from 22 % to 15 % for almost the same number of funds submitted.
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The French SIF, Le Forum pour l’Investissement Responsable (FIR), and the UN-backed PRI have handed out the awards for this year’s best academic research, known as the FIR/PRI Prize. Best research article went to Alex Edmans of Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania for an article in the Journal of Financial Economics, titled: “Does the Stock Market Fully Value Intangibles? Employee Satisfaction and Equity Prices”. The award for best doctorate research went to Diane-Laure Arjaliès for: “Institutional Change in the Making – The Case of Socially Responsible Investment”. Madeleine Evans of the London School of Economics won bet Masters research for a paper titled: “Meeting the challenge of impact investing: How can contracting practices secure social impact without sacrificing performance?”

Charities in the UK are risking reputational damage, according to environmental, social and governance (ESG) research house EIRIS. A report in Third Sector quoted EIRIS’s business development head Victoria Heath as telling a Charity Finance Directors’ Group conference that while 60% of large charities had ethical investment policies, many were of limited use. “I would question the validity of many responsible investment policies that do exist,” she said.German industrial group Bosch has set up a new US foundation. The Bosch Community Fund will award $3m in grants annually to support charitable and community efforts, with a focus on science, technology and environmental initiatives. Announcement

The latest Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Barometer report from the Business & Society Belgium network shows that “social responsibility has gained acclaim with companies in Belgium” and in a more structured way than before. A “massive” 510 companies participated.

Integrated reporting on environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) issues is gaining momentum – despite a lack of regulations, according to consulting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. It has released a new paper Integrated Reporting: A better view?

CRD Analytics, the sustainability investment analytics provider, is to hold its quarterly analyst call on October 6 to address “the rapid evolution of sustainability indexes, ratings and ESG investing”. The call, co-hosted with sustainability performance advisory firm MetaVu aims to assist current and prospective companies in the NASDAQ OMX CRD Global Sustainability Index. Link

The $36.3bn Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has recommended a financial transactions tax to aid development in poor countries, according to reports. The Foundation, asked by the French government to look at how the Group of 20 countries could raise new cash for the world’s poor, called for a tax on financial transactions, tobacco, and shipping and aviation fuels, according to a Reuters report.

The National Association of Corporate Directors, the US business group, is asking all boards to make diversity a top priority “because we know that business success depends on it,” says NACD Chair Barbara Hackman Franklin. The association and consulting firm PwC co-hosted more than 120 corporate leaders to discuss opportunities for women in the boardroom on September 15 in New York.