RI ESG Briefing, August 8: Citi, Credit Suisse in US residential solar financing

The round-up of environmental, social and governance news


Nasdaq-listed solar panels firm SunPower Corp. has announced new commitments from finance titans Citi and Credit Suisse that will provide financing to support around $325m of residential solar lease projects. SunPower will use the funds to supplement its leasing program to US residential customers.

Six New England states – Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont – have decided to launch a coordinated regional procurement of renewable energy. They will release a request for proposals (RFP) in 2013 for a “significant amount” of renewable energy. Link

Venture capital firms have invested more than $4bn since 2000 in the race to build greener buildings, and are now looking at new technologies, according to advisory firm Lux Research. The firm said early VC investors are looking for exits for the first wave of successful green buildings start-ups. It added: “The seeds of the next crop are being sown in on-site generation and sustainable materials.”


The United Nations Global Compact’s Principles for Social Investment Secretariat (PSIS) is hosting the inaugural Social Investment Pioneer Awards in 2012. The awards aim to recognize and showcase SME and multinational examples of international best practice in social investment. The Award categories are: Responsible Business, Inclusive Business, Shared Value, Social Enterprise, and Strategic Corporate Philanthropy. Applications close on September 30 and the winners will be announced on November 28 in Melbourne. Link

Brazilian exchange BM&FBOVESPA has said its ISE Corporate Sustainability Index has gained 14% over the year to date and 16.01% in 12 months. It compares to returns of -1.16% and -4.63% for the main IBOVESPA index. Link

Munich Re chief executive Nicholas von Bomhard has reiterated his call that banks deemed too big to fail should be broken up, yet ruled out an engagement by the reinsurance giant with banks on the issue. Von Bomhard sits on the supervisory board of Commerzbank. Meanwhile, Munich Re board member Torsten Jeworrek said the Sahara solar power project Desertec was well on track. “Either this year or early next year, we will do the first tenders so that the Moroccan part of the project can go on stream,” Jeworrek said.h6. Governance

Pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer has agreed to pay $60m to settle criminal and civil allegations that it bribed doctors and government officials in countries in Eastern Europe, Asia and the Middle East over a 10-year period up to 2006. The settlement was reached with the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission and is the latest effort under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Aquila Capital, the Hamburg-based alternative investment company, has tapped ECPI to be its environmental, social and governance (ESG) advisor. Italy-based ECPI will assess Aquila’s own policies on sustainability, compliance with the UN Principles for Responsible Investing, and assist with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and ESG investment guidelines.

The first edition of well-known corporate governance commentator Broc Romanek’s new “Proxy Season Disclosure Treatise & Reporting Guide” is currently being published. It contains more than 1150 pages spanning 27 chapters. Link

Australian Ethical, the Australian sustainable fund management company, says it has appointed Russell Investments to provide administration services from around April 2013.

A new report urges asset managers to regain investor confidence by facing up to the “moral challenges” posed by recent global events. “Success of the Fittest: A Swift Survey of Shifts in Asset Management” assesses the fitness of the asset management sector in the present financial climate; it has been published as part of the Financial Centre Futures programme in Long Finance which includes the Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI). Link

€11bn Dutch pension fund Vervoer has accused Goldman Sachs Asset Management of causing its cash to be invested in sub-prime mortgage-backed securities in mid-2007 – even though it knew that Goldman’s own trading desk was short selling MBS on a big scale, according to Financial News. The fund is suing GSAM for €250m for negligence.

Beleaguered banking giant Barclays is planning a radical reform of its bonus structure, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph. It said it could mean staff would have to wait until they retire to collect their awards. The proposal is one of several being looked at by directors, faced with overhauling the bank’s reputation after the Libor and executive pay scandals.