RI ESG Briefing, Feb. 26: European banks pressed on country-by-country reporting

The round-up of the latest environmental, social and governance news


The former BNP Paribas Clean Energy Partners, now known as Glennmont Partners, has begun construction on its five-turbine wind farm project at Todmorden Moor in West Yorkshire, UK. It has signed a “turnkey contract” with turbine maker Nordex. The project is expected to be fully operational by the end of the year.

The Pembina Institute, the Canadian environmental think tank, has issued a new report called ‘Carbon Pricing Approaches in Oil and Gas Producing Jurisdictions’. It explores carbon pricing initiatives in Alberta, British Columbia, California, Australia, Norway, and the European Union.

The Climate Investment Funds (CIF) will release $50m to stimulate energy efficiency and renewable energy generation in Nigeria, according to reports. The funds, administered by CIF’s Clean Technology Fund (CTF), will be used to support investments by local banks in efficient, clean and affordable energy, as part an existing program of the African Development Bank (AfDB). Link


The European Investment Bank is putting around €6m into a new private equity fund investing in affordable housing for lower and middle income households in selected Eastern and Southern African countries. The Phatisa-run vehicle will primarily invest in portfolio companies that are joint ventures with local SME property developers and its target countries are Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Zambia and Mozambique where it will invest primarily in the major urban areas. The EIB says: “The fund manager will follow a value-add strategy in terms of sharing and imposing best practice on its SME partners in areas such as corporate and project governance, social and environmental due diligence, green technology, business and project modelling and financing.” Link

First State Investments will shortly start gauging the impact of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors on its investments, according to a report in Money Management citing global head of responsible investment Will Oulton. First State is the international operation of Australia-based fund firm Colonial First State Global Asset Management (CFSGAM), itself part of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.h6. Governance

The European Parliament’s key Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee has written to the 27 Finance Ministers across the EU calling on them to force banks to reveal how much tax they pay, what their turnover is and what their profits are in each country in which they operate. This is part of the ongoing discussions on the Capital Requirements Directive in the Parliament. “Country-by country reporting for these institutions would …be a symbolic disclosure that would set the path towards greater transparency in other sectors, currently under discussion,” said committee chair Sharon Bowles.

Eumedion, the Dutch corporate governance network, has come out broadly in favour of the European Commission’s Corporate Governance Action Plan that was published late last year. Eumedion represents 70 Dutch and non-Dutch institutional investors with a combined asset base of more than €1trn.

A group of US pension funds including the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), the Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds, the New York City Retirement Systems and others have reportedly urged IT giant Hewlett-Packard to address corporate governance and board composition issues in a conference call with four directors of the company. The Bloomberg report, which cited CalSTRS’ spokesman Ricardo Duran, comes ahead of HP’s annual meeting on March 20.

Separately the US labour union-affiliated CtW [Change to Win] Investment Group has said it plans to oppose two HP directors – and its auditor – over governance issues. Michael Pryce-Jones, CtW senior governance policy analyst, was quoted saying it will not campaign against board chairman Raymond Lane’s nomination for re-election.

Shareholders in Novartis have approved a plan by the Swiss drugs firm to make the variable compensation of its CEO and management executives more dependent on the achievement of performance targets. In a consultative vote during Novartis’ annual general meeting (AGM) earlier this month, 78.3% of shareholders approved the measure. Another 20.2% voted against and 1.5% abstained. One of the bigger shareholders voting against was Swiss proxy advisor Ethos, which opposed it on the grounds that Novartis managers could still be paid excessively. Voting results