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RI ESG Briefing, April 23: Major funds back emissions disclosure vote at PNC

The round-up of environmental, social and governance news

Environmental

InterGen, the Massachusetts-based power firm that is 50% owned by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP), has agreed to buy half of a 155MW Mexican wind project. The agreement is with developer Infraestructura Energética Nova (IEnova) and relates to the Energía Sierra Juarez facility in Tecate, Baja California.

Prokon will likely be declared insolvent soon, according to the lawyer hired by the German wind energy firm last January to assess its finances. Dietmar Penzlin said he now expects a local court to declare Prokon insolvent in early May. Speaking before Easter, Penzlin also said there was a chance that Prokon could continue, but this depended on a thorough restructuring, entailing job losses. Since its start in 1995, Prokon has developed 50 onshore wind parks with a combined capacity of 526MW and employs around 1,300 people.

A group of campaign groups have released their fifth annual coal finance report card. Extreme Investments, Extreme Consequences – from Rainforest Action Network (RAN), Sierra Club and BankTrack – shows that even amid bankruptcies and environmental cleanup costs, U.S. banks still provided $31bn in financing for coal in 2013.

Social

The European Investment Bank is appraising an investment – via a senior unsecured loan of up to €2m – in the Microfund for Women (MFW). MFW is a Jordanian not for profit microfinance institution. The operation will back the development of the local financial sector for the on-lending to micro-projects, and bolster support for the private sector and the development of microenterprises. Announcement

The Canadian government has announced a CAD$15m (€9.8m) investment in a fund managed by Sarona Asset Management, the private equity firm. The investment aims to promote private sector-led growth by stimulating investment in small to mid-market companies in frontier and emerging markets. The investment will act as a first-loss guarantee on Sarona’s investments and the profits thereof will be shared with other investors. Link

A new web portal for environmental, social and governance ratings has been launched by US data and consulting firm S-Network Global Indexes. The service, developed with Thomson Reuters, lets users access ESG ratings on over 4,600 public companies. The ratings are accessed here.

Maximpact is a new online impact-investing network where listings connect users with partners and potential funders worldwide. Later this year, it aims to launch tools for “starting, managing, organizing and developing” new impact and sustainability projects. The services will include: Media, Finance and Consulting, and Marketing and PR.h6. Governance

Major investors including PGGM, Norges Bank Investment Management and California giants CalPERS and CalSTRS have all disclosed they voted in favour of a proposal at PNC Financial Services, the Pittsburgh-based financial services corporation, calling for a report on the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from its lending portfolio and its exposure to climate change risk. The proposal was filed by Boston Common Asset Management. PGGM said: “This proposal is warranted because the company could provide shareholders with additional information about its environmental risk assessment processes for its lending operations and more comprehensive disclosure of its exposure to climate change risks.”

The pension system for Providence, Rhode Island, is the lead plaintiff in a new securities class action against “stock exchanges, high frequency trading firms and brokerages”. The case has been filed by law firm Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd. The action is being spearheaded by Patrick Coughlin, who was involved in recovering $7.3bn for former investors in Enron Corporation. He said the exchanges and trading firms had all “participated in a wide-ranging scheme to defraud individual and institutional investors alike”.

Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler has filed a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas against BP. The suit, on behalf of the $44bn Maryland State Retirement and Pension System alleges the oil major made “false and misleading” statements regarding its commitment to safety reforms and oil spill prevention and response capabilities in the run-up to the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010. The spill “not only claimed the lives of 11 people and caused the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history, it also resulted in millions of dollars in investment losses sustained by Maryland’s pension system,” Gansler said.

Stephen Viederman, Chair of the Finance Committee of the Christopher Reynolds Foundation, is set to speak tomorrow (April 24) at the Pfizer annual meeting in support of a motion on political lobbying. The resolution, co-filed by Friends Fiduciary and the Unitarian Universalist Association, focuses on the lobbying and legislative activities of the trade associations and organizations of which the pharma giant is a member and supports financially.

CtW Investment Group, the US labour union-linked investment advisor, has written to fellow shareholders in Chipotle Mexican Grill and Burger King Worldwide ahead of the food groups’ annual meetings, which both take place on May 15. CtW is asking shareholders to vote against the “Say-on-Pay” proposal at Chipotle. It also wants them to withhold support for directors Alexandre Behring and Carlos Alberto Sicupira and vote against pay at Burger King. CtW has also urged holders of KKR Financial Holdings investors on Monday to vote against a proposed $2.6bn takeover by former parent KKR & Co.

US banking giant Citigroup had 84.6% support for its 2013 executive pay awards in a vote at its annual meeting, according to a Financial Times report. Two years ago investors including CalPERS, the largest US pension fund, failed to give pay at the bank majority support, the FT added.