RI ESG Briefing, August 1: US fund reaches settlement with Goldman

The round-up of environmental, social and governance news


Investec, the banking and asset management group, has highlighted a 15-year €50m Climate Action Framework Loan Facility with the European Investment Bank that it concluded this year to fund energy-efficient and clean energy projects in South Africa. It comes in its new 2012 Sustainability Report available here

The Climate Bonds Initiative has set up an Energy Efficiency Working Group to develop eligibility criteria for the certification of energy efficiency related bonds. The group includes representatives from the International Energy Agency, the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, US Green Building Council, Low-Carbon Australia, the Office of the State Treasurer of California. Link

The Chinese city of Shanghai is bringing in a new scheme to make companies with large carbon footprints pay for their excessive emissions, according to a report in China Daily. The city is launching a carbon trade platform in a bid to curb the emissions of over 200 companies across 16 industries. The platform will be based at the Shanghai Environment and Energy Exchange.


French human rights NGOs, the Fédération Internationale des Droits de l’Homme (FIDH), Ligue des Droits de l’Homme (LDH) have filed a complaint with the Public Prosecutor at the Paris Court to investigate French companies allegedly supplying Syria with intelligence technology used to spy on and track its citizens, reports the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre.
Qosmos, a French software firm, which has been criticised for supplying the Syrian government with the electronic surveillance equipment, told French newspapers that it was aware of the proceedings but that it had no case to answer.
The UK High Court has ordered Anglo American to release documents to South African gold miners suing the company over claims that exposure to silica dust had caused them to contract the lung diseases silicosis and silico-tuberculosis. Law firm, Leigh Day & Co, is representing over 1500 South African former-miners. Anglo American had argued the company was administered in Johannesburg and not London. However, a judge said there were a number of factors that supported the miners’ case that the company was centrally administered in London.

The US courts will during October debate whether Nigerians from the Ogoni tribe can bring a case in the US over alleged human rights abuses by Shell, the oil giant, in the case known as Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum. The application focuses on whether the court will apply US Alien Tort Statute to human rights abuses on foreign soil. The case is a companion to the case of Ken Saro Wiwa v Royal Dutch Petroleum, which settled in 2009. Link. Governance

The Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi has reportedly reached a $26.6m settlement with investment bank Goldman Sachs over a $698m mortgage-backed securities offering dating back to 2008. The fund had sued in 2009.

Asset management giant Fidelity Worldwide Investment has told investee companies that it wants executive pay to be more closely aligned with their long-term commitment to their companies. In a letter to the companies, Fidelity’s Chief Investment Officer for Equities Dominic Rossi called for firms to impose a lock-in on shares paid to executives. Link

The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) will launch draft guidance this autumn to be published next March looking at what it says is a “dysfunctional” relationship between institutional investors and investee companies, particularly regarding engagement and the quality of UK stewardship. A steering committee is being led by Sir John Egan, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Severn Trent, and a group of industry experts, including Rients Abma, executive director of Eumedion, the Dutch corporate governance forum for institutional investors, Peter Butler, founding partner and chief executive of Governance for Owners and Frank Curtiss, head of corporate governance at RPMI Railpen Investments.

A shareholder class action suit brought by the Erie County Employees Retirement System against oil services firm Nabors Industries has been dismissed by a Texas federal judge, according to reports. The action related to a $100m payout to ousted CEO Eugene Isenberg; US District Judge Ewing Werlein found the complaint could not proceed under applicable foreign law, Law 360 reported.

ESG research firm Sustainalytics has published a report looking at the ESG implications of the July 23 bid for Nexen Inc. the Canadian oil and gas company, by CNOOC, the 100% Chinese government owned subsidiary of China National Offshore Oil Corporation by CNOOC Ltd. It notes that the buy-out, which looks likely to be favoured by shareholders due to a 61% share price premium would involve an ESG leader (Nexen), ranked number one out of 156 companies by Sustainalytics’ global platform, by an industry laggard: CNOOC ranks 133rd.

Human trafficking: The US House of Representatives recently received a briefing from Julie Tanner, Assistant Director of SRI at funds firm Christian Brothers Investment Services, on transparency and the role of business with the aim of raising awareness and gaining co-sponsors for the Business Transparency in Trafficking and Slavery bill.

IW Financial, the Portland, Maine-based ESG research and consulting firm, is to incorporate governance data from Glass Lewis into its products. The company will run the information in combination with its own research via its Workstation platform and data feeds.