RI ESG Briefing, Feb. 27: TIAA-CREF welcomes Korean green bond

The round-up of ESG news

Environmental

US academic investing institution TIAACREF has welcomed the new $500m (€382.4m) green bond issued by the Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM). Portfolio Manager Stephen Liberatore said: “We are excited to see an increasing number of organizations issuing socially responsible securities. A robust market of socially responsible investments helps us meet the needs of a growing number of investors looking to align investments with principles. We believe the KEXIM Green Bond is a good fit for us because it supports global climate-related initiatives, adds portfolio diversification and has the potential for long-term performance.”

First Solar, the Nasdaq-listed photovoltaic (PV) solar firm, has announced record net sales of $1.1bn for the fourth quarter and $3.4bn for 2012. The company expects the market to remain turbulent for “some time to come” although it has seen some evidence of improvement.

The Kenya Electricity Generating Company reportedly plans to issue a 20-year, Sh30bn (US$345m) bond to finance geothermal power production. The company is 70% owned by the Kenyan Government with the balance listed on the Nairobi Stock Exchange.

Social

The Global Reporting Initiative, which develops and disseminates sustainability reporting guidelines, is set to launch its Focal Point South Africa – aiming to make sustainability reporting standard practice for companies and organizations in South Africa and the wider region. The Focal Point, hosted by ACCA South Africa, will act as a regional hub, facilitating and promoting the active engagement of African organizations in the development of sustainability reporting regionally and globally.

The Grameen Crédit Agricole Foundation and the French Development Agency (AFD) have signed an agreement to better contribute to the development of microfinance, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. The agreement covers risk coverage and technical assistance and AFD pledges to support 50% of the credit risk on the financing granted by the Grameen Crédit Agricole Microfinance institutions (MFIs).h6. Governance

The Singapore Stock Exchange is supporting integrated reporting, which aims to combine financial and sustainability disclosures. Exchange CEO Magnus Böcker said: “We support having a continued dialogue and discussion on Integrated Reporting as we want to participate to help shape the future.” The International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) said it “sends out a strong message to other stock exchanges”. Link

UK-based banking group Barclays is reportedly about to reveal the number of staff – estimated at up to 700 – who earned above £1m (€1.16m) in 2012. The Financial Times said the bank would make the disclosures in its annual report next week.

Australia’s ‘two strikes’ rule giving shareholders more influence over executive pay has made companies much more open to engagement from shareholders, according to an item on the Sustainability Report citing AMP Capital, the funds house with over A$128bn (€99.7bn) under management. AMP’s corporate governance manager Karin Halliday was quoted saying companies are now more “in tune with” investors.

Deutsche Bank has scheduled an extraordinary shareholder meeting for April 11 after lawyers representing the heirs of deceased media mogul Leo Kirch successfully challenged three resolutions from the bank’s annual general meeting last year. While Deutsche shareholders had approved the resolutions, Kirch’s lawyers managed to convince a Frankfurt court that there had been procedural errors. Kirch and his family have been suing Deutsche since 2002; the bank’s AGM takes place on May 23 2013.

Activist investment house Cevian Capital’s Cevian Capital II Master Fund LP has raised its holding of Denmark’s Danske Bank to 51.2m shares – giving it a 5.07% stake in the company. Announcement

Software firm Symantec Corp has won the dismissal of a lawsuit which had accused it of not disclosing enough information about its executive pay practices before a “say-on-pay” vote at its AGM. Judge James Kleinberg of California Superior Court in Santa Clara County granted Symantec’s dismissal motion late last week. The case had been brought by private shareholder Natalie Gordon.