RI Briefing, September 6: Ethos, Hawkamah, IFC, Altman Group

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

Ethos, the Swiss consultant, has been selected by asset manager Pictet to provide sustainability advice to its new Environmental Megatrend Selection fund. Ethos will engage with companies on environmental, social and governance practices. Link

Hawkamah, Dubai’s Institute for Corporate Governance, has issued a draft Policy Brief on Corporate Governance of Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions in the Middle East and North Africa. Separately, Hawkamah has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the UK’s Institute of Chartered Accountants.

The World Bank Group’s IFC and Daiwa Securities have launched a second emerging markets microfinance bond – expected to raise up to $323m; it’s targeted at Japanese retail and institutional investors. The first issue in November 2009 raised about JPY25bn (€230m).
The Asian Development Bank has said it plans to issue – in four tranches – its inaugural Clean Energy Bond to support its clean energy projects in Asia and the Pacific.

US proxy advisory firm Altman Group will not accept new corporate proxy clients, according to a report in Inside Investor Relations. The move comes as rival Alliance Investors has hired two top Altman executives, Peter Casey and Domenick de Robertis.

Independent directors may provide an important internal governance mechanism for protecting shareholders’ interests in large bank mergers, according to new research by Elijah Brewer, Julapa Jagtiani and William Jackson of, respectively, the Federal Reserve Banks of Chicago and Philadelphia and the University of Alabama.

Frank Vogl, the co-founder of Transparency International, has called on all governments to force extractives companies to disclose payments to governments. In a letter to the Financial Times, Vogl said new US legislation “may now lead to a quantum leap in replacing the opacity that clouds this sector”.The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision has issued the final version of its paper Microfinance activities and the Core Principles for Effective Banking Supervision. It contains supervisory guidance for the application of the Basel Core Principles for overseeing microfinance. Link

A new study analysing the relationship between board structure and company performance at listed companies in Turkey has been released. “The Effects of Board Independence in Controlled Firms: Evidence from Turkey” is by Sabanci University’s Melsa Ararat and Hakan Orbay and B. Burcin Yurtoglu of the University of Vienna. Link

The £3.5bn (€4.2bn) London Pensions Fund Authority is thinking about collaborating with other funds on engagement in emerging markets, according to an interview with Chief Executive Mike Taylor in Global Pensions magazine.

Sustainable funds house SAM says the $480bn global water market is expected to grow by about 6% over the next five years. It said: “Growing demand for water requires the sustainable use of water resources across all segments of the water business.” Link

Jupiter Green Investment Trust, the £38.8m (€46.5m) environmental fund run by Jupiter Asset Management, says the Gulf oil spill may have positive outcomes for alternative energy and energy efficiency legislation. The trust returned -11.1% in the second quarter. Annoucement

Sustainable bank Triodos has seen its total funds under management increase to €2bn at the end of June, up from €1.5bn a year before. Report

The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative and The Geneva Association, the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative and ClimateWise have developed a global insurance industry statement on adapting to climate change in developing countries.