RI Briefs Feb 8: the week’s other ESG news in brief

RI’s snappy round-up of the news you shouldn’t miss.


A Dutch court ruling that Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) must compensate a farmer for property damage caused by a sabotaged well in 2006 and 2007, could lead to similar cases according to a report from Sustainalytics, the ESG research company. It said the Dutch court system could now hear cases against both Dutch-registered parent companies and their foreign subsidiaries for incidents that have occurred in foreign jurisdictions, and hold the foreign subsidiary of a Dutch parent company liable for breaking local laws in their country of operation: Link

China’s Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) has finished initial work to measure the effectiveness of green credit implementation within Chinese banks, reports the China Sustainable Finance Newsletter. The work aims to measure, report and verify the environmental benefits of bank-financed projects. Testing of the indicators within Chinese banks is to follow and may be formally introduced in 2013.

Osmosis Investment Management, the Global equity manager, says it has reached $100million in assets from institutional investors. The London based partnership uses a proprietary methodology to build portfolios of large cap listed companies based on relative resource efficiency. It recently launched a UCITS fund, the Osmosis World Resource Efficiency Fund, which has reached $25m in assets.


A Social Impact Bond (SIB) for the retail investor market has been launched by Allia, the UK charity. The bond aims to improve the lives of adolescents at risk of being taken into local authority care, and provide a financial return for investors. Part of the investment will be committed to the Essex SIB, developed by Social Finance, which has raised £3.1m from institutional investors. The principal of the bond is capital protected, but returns will be dependent on the programme’s success in reducing the number of days spent in care by children, as well as measures such as reduced offending Link

Sir Ronald Cohen, founder of Social Finance, and former Chairman of Apax Partners, is to launch an Israeli chapter of Social Finance, the organisation that supports the raising and deploying of private capital for not-for-profit organisations. It follows its recent move into the US.

A report from Global Witness and Syntao, titled: “Transparency Matters: Disclosure of payments to governments by Chinese extractive companies.” assesses the tax payments made by Shanghai-listed extractive companies to governments in resource-rich countries in 2010 and 2011. It suggests the Shanghai Stock Exchange could improve the transparency around payments. Link to report*Investors face significant risk from land conflicts* over controversial land acquisitions in developing countries, including significant potential rises in operating costs, according to two new reports. The Munden Project, a consultancy, wrote one of the papers, titled: The Financial Risks of Insecure Land Tenure: An Investment View
The second report produced by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) highlights the key choice facing developing countries in 2013 and is titled: Landowners or Labourers: What Choice Will Developing Countries Make?

The UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment Academic Network has published a list of what its members recommend as their best books on responsible investment and sustainable finance: Link


CalPERS, the US pension fund giant, is to write to other shareholders in Apple asking them to support a proposal by the company to allow investors to actively vote against directors rather than merely withhold votes as per the current legal structure, reports the FT. Apple has changed its stance following previous large shareholder votes against it on the issue by shareholders including CalPERS.

CalPERS has also welcomed the US state and federal lawsuits against Standard & Poor’s for alleged fraudulent investment ratings. Robert Glazier, CalPERS Deputy Executive Officer, said: “CalPERS is a victim of S&P’s wrongdoing, and a recovery from S&P will benefit the millions of public employees that rely on us for their retirement security. CalPERS is glad to have the federal and state governments on our side in these efforts to hold the ratings agencies accountable.”

Oekom, the German ESG research firm says its number of clients has risen to more than 75, managing €520bn in assets. Robert Haßler, Oekom’s founder and chief executive said the client base had grown to include pension funds, insurers and asset managers from 10 different countries. During 2012 the firm increased staff numbers to 48 and partnered with GES Investment Services, the Swedish ESG advisor, giving Oekom’s clients access to engagement services while GES’ clients can draw on the ESG research supplied by Oekom.

Human rights organizations have filed complaints with the OECD against two European surveillance technology companies, seeking investigations into whether the firms are complicit in the abuse of dissidents in Bahrain, reports Bloomberg. The complaints seek probes of UK-based Gamma Group and Munich-based Trovicor.

A new report by DB Advisors, the institutional investment business of Deutsche Bank, looks at shareholder activism as an effective approach to socially responsible investing. The report is part of a collaboration between Deutsche Bank, DB Advisors and Maastricht University School of Business and Economics

The European Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (EVCA) has published a report entitled Long-term investing: The route to sustained growth