RI ESG Briefing, August 14: KfW and SEB combine to finance giant Swedish wind farm

The round-up of environmental, social and governance news


Germany’s KfW IPEX-Bank and Sweden-based SEB have combined to provide €84.5m for the largest contiguous European wind energy project at Markbygden in the north of Sweden. The loan financing for the 84.6 MW, 36-turbine sub-project Skogberget will be provided by both banks in equal shares. By 2021 up to 1,101 wind turbines with a total installed capacity of up to 4,000 MW will be erected in several phases on an area of 450 km². It is estimated that the project could cover up to 8% of Sweden’s electricity demand.

A consortium including the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is reportedly seeking to refinance A$1.64bn (€1.13bn) of loans used to buy a 50-year lease to a desalination plant in Kurnell in south Sydney, Australia. Bloomberg, citing an unnamed source, said RBC Capital Markets is advising the consortium, which also includes Hastings Funds Management.

Regulators in Connecticut and Minnesota have decided to join their peers in California, New York and Washington in requiring insurers to respond to a survey on climate change, according to a report on industry site Property Casualty 360. All companies writing more than $100m in direct premiums will have to respond to the Climate Risk Survey, adopted in 2009 by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The move would double the number of companies required to respond “and will give insurance regulators, investors and policyholders a better picture of how insurers are responding to climate change” California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones was quoted adding.


Mission Markets, the portal for impact and sustainability investments, has announced the addition of a crowdfunding platform called Mission Crowdfund, what’s claimed to be the first platform to offer voluntary funding of environmental and wildlife habitat credits. It said: “With the launch of Mission Crowdfund, organizations in the impact space are able to raise funds for projects that support their social or environmental objectives.”h6. Governance

Six US pension funds are reportedly accusing computer maker Dell of manipulating the shareholder voting process in the current contest for control of the company. The class action complaint against founder Michael Dell and other board members was filed on Friday by the Wayne County Employees Retirement System, the Oakland County Employees’ Retirement System, the Boynton Beach Firefighters Pension Fund, the City of Roseville Employees’ Retirement System, Electrical Workers Pension Trust Fund and the IBEW Local Union No. 58 Annuity Fund, said Pensions & Investments. They want an injunction to require Dell to hold a meeting that will allow shareholders the choice to vote between the bidders.

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and General Board of the United Methodist Church each have voted their shares in Dell in support of the buyout that is endorsed by the company, P&I added.

Norges Bank Investment Management, which manages the assets of the giant Norwegian Global Pension Fund, may start to focus on corporate tax evasion for the first time following a series of scandals that have put it on the political agenda. Norges’ CEO Yngve Slyngstad was quoted as saying by Reuters that the issue “could be an interesting area for us to focus on in the future”, and that tax evasion is an increased concern “not just for politicians, but also for investors”.

A proposal from Wisconsin-based faith investor the Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order, calling for defence contractor Alliant Techsystems to disclose its lobbying payments, gained 65% at the company’s annual meeting on July 31, according to a Social Funds report. The company spent approximately $2.66m in 2010 and 2011 on direct federal lobbying activities, the proposal stated.

Class action specialist law firm Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd has filed a class action suit against Microsoft, alleging the software giant issued “materially false and misleading” statements about its financial performance and its Surface RT tablet computer. Robbins Geller is seeking a lead plaintiff for the action. Link

GMI Ratings, the governance research firm, says its Litigation Risk Model, which differentiates between publicly traded companies at high risk of class actions and those at very low risk of such lawsuits, continued its steady performance in the first half of 2013. Over the period, 48% of the companies that had federal class actions filed against them in the US were classified in the lowest quintile of the model a year before the lawsuit was filed.