RI ESG Briefing, April 10: French state fund issues responsible investment charter

The daily round-up of ESG news


Wellington Management Co., the Boston-based fund management company with $651bn under management, has disclosed a 13.77% stake in Nebraska-based ethanol producer Green Plains Renewables – up from a 7.57% stake disclosed at the end of last year.

The Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB), a consortium of 30 of the world’s largest pension asset managers and real estate industry associations, is partnering with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) to enhance property sustainability reporting. GRESB is a benchmark for the environmental and social performance of real estate investment managers. In 2011, more than 350 real estate fund managers and property companies responded to the GRESB survey, which is used by more than 30 institutional investors to engage with their property fund managers.

German development finance institution DEG has launched an online tool for investors and companies to detect water-related risks. The Water Risk Filter has been developed with environmental non-governmental organisation the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature). The newly developed instrument not only points to water risks in the supply chain and in an investment portfolio, it also provides a number of practical approaches for risk mitigation. Link


Eurosif, the European Sustainable Investment Forum, has published a report into corporate procurement in collaboration with Bank Sarasin. It found that responsible supply chain management is seen as a significant factor in reducing business risk and improving the attractiveness of an investment opportunity. Link

The European Investment Bank is seeking a corporate responsibility (CR) service provider, according to a tender. The Luxembourg-based lender is seeking a consultant to assess its CR performance and support it in strengthening its in-house capacity. The contract will be on an initial one-year basis.

George Kell, the executive director of the UN Global Compact, says he is dealing with the initiative’s “free riders” who signed up but had no intention of remaining engaged – according to a recent interview with the Guardian. It said over 750 firms, including major corporations, were likely to be kicked out in the next six months. That’s on top of the 3,100 that have already been de-listed.h6. Governance

French state fund La Caisse des Dépôts has published a detailed charter for responsible investment. Notably, the fund said it wanted to develop an exemplary system of corporate governance oversight for investee companies.

NEI Investments, the Canadian mutual fund firm, has filed a resolution at energy firm Enbridge relating to the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline project – following a six-year dialogue with the company. “NEI has been unable to reconcile Enbridge’s claims that First Nations support will be acquired with statements of opposition from key First Nations’ leaders along the pipeline right of way,” NEI said in a proxy alert.

The French SIF (Forum pour l’Investissement Responsible) has raised a number of objections to proposals from the AMF market regulator on annual general meetings. They include concerns over the levels of shareholding necessary to file a resolution, an indication that the President of the board would be able to judge whether a resolution should be heard, as well as a lack of notification on timings. Link

The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum has welcomed James Murdoch’s decision to step down as chair of satellite broadcaster BSkyB is a sensible one. “James Murdoch’s decision is the right one, and will be welcomed by shareholders interested in the company’s long-term success,” said chairman Ian Greenwood. Link

Proxy research firm Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) has advised its clients to vote against Hiroyuki Sasa as president of troubled camera maker Olympus, according to a Bloomberg story. Olympus holds its shareholder meeting on April 20.

CalSTRS, the California State Teachers Retirement System, has voted against the entire board at Nasdaq-listed solar photovoltaic (PV) company First Solar ahead of the firm’s annual shareholder meeting on April 13, according to voting disclosures.

The Association of British Insurers’ IVIS proxy voting service has issued a warning about executive bonuses at Barclays ahead of the UK bank’s annual general meeting on April 27, according to a Financial Times report. And it has been reported that some large UK investors may vote against Barclays CEO Bob Diamond’s pay package after he was awarded a tax-related lump sum.