RI ESG Briefing, April 4: RobecoSAM launches 2013 Corporate Sustainability Assessment

*The round-up of environmental, social and governance news


Demeter Partners, the European development capital private equity manager is lead investor in a consortium including French venture firms, Aquitaine Création Investissement and Techno’Start, for a €1.3m stake in Sunna Design. Founded in India in 2009, Sunna develops and commercialises LED solar lighting solutions with priority in emerging countries.
The company has been based near Bordeaux since the end of 2011. Demeter is investing via its Demeter 3 Amorçage fund, a €43m fund backed by institutional investors and private corporations. Link

Anti-mafia investigators in Italy have confiscated €1.3bn of assets, including renewable energy companies, from the alternative energy entrepreneur Vito Nicastri , known as the “king of wind”, according to a report in the Guardian. Among assets seized were 43 companies, 98 properties, 66 bank accounts, credit cards, investment funds, cars and boats.

Impax Environmental Markets, the AIM-listed trust which invests in companies within the energy efficiency, alternative energy, water and waste sectors, says there are the first signs that investor confidence is starting to return to the sector. In the second half of last year it said it outperformed both the FTSE ET50 environmental index and the broader MSCI Word Index and MSCI World Small Cap Index. Net assets slipped 1% to £341.2m (€403m) at the end of the year.

Indonesian geothermal group Star Energy Geothermal-Wayang Windu has raised $350m (€272.1m) from selling seven-year global bonds to investors. The Jakarta Globe reported the issue had strong demand from international investors and was 11 times oversubscribed. The bonds will be issued on Thursday and listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange. Star is controlled by tycoon Prajogo Pangestu.


SolAbility, the Korea-based sustainability consultancy, has released its Global Sustainable Competitiveness Index 2013. It scores and ranks 176 countries according to their capability to sustain or increase wealth in a resource-constraint, globalised world. The Index, first developed last year, has four main pillars: Natural Capital, Resource Efficiency, Sustainable Innovation and Social Cohesion.h6. Governance

RobecoSAM, the Zurich-based sustainability boutique, has launched its annual Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) for 2013 to decide which leading companies will comprise the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices. “Going through this exercise helps companies to identify financially material sustainability issues that have an impact on their bottom lines,” said Daniel Wild, Head of Research at RobecoSAM. Refinements this year include alignment with the CDP (Carbon Disclosure Project) and the Global Industry Classification System (GICS).

A judge in the US has rejected an attempt by oil giant Chevron to secure documents from campaign group Amazon Watch in a case linked to the $19bn Ecuador rainforest pollution settlement. Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins quashed the company’s subpoena for a deposition and documents from the group, according to a Reuters report.

News Corp., the media giant controlled by Rupert Murdoch, has incurred legal and professional fees and payouts totalling $270m over the phone hacking scandal, according to its newly released preliminary proxy materials. A class action with the UK’s Avon Pension Fund as lead plaintiff is currently pending, which the company says it intends to “vigorously defend”. It says the phone hacking issue “could damage our reputation, impair our ability to conduct our business and adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition”.

British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (bcIMC), the Canadian investment giant with assets of C$98.7bn (€75.7bn), says it will vote in favour of Agrium’s board nominees at the fertilizer producer’s contested annual general meeting on April 9. Agrium is currently involved in a bruising spat with activist investor JANA Partners but bcIMC says it has met with Agrium’s management and directors, as well as JANA and its proposed directors and concluded that Agrium’s current board already provides “effective oversight”. “bcIMC takes our stewardship responsibilities very seriously, and after careful consideration of both sides, we have determined that JANA’s plan is not in the interests of long-term shareholders such as ourselves,” said Doug Pearce, Chief Investment Officer / Chief Executive Officer at bcIMC.