RI ESG Briefing, February 13: Dexia AM changes name to reflect responsible asset management

The round of the latest ESG news


A group of six investors have filed shareholder resolutions with 10 fossil fuel companies, including Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Southern Company, Hess, Anadarko, Devon, Kinder Morgan, Peabody Energy, FirstEnergy and CONSOL Energy seeking an explanation of their strategies for competing as the world moves toward a low-carbon global economy. The investors include the Connecticut State Treasurer’s Office, the New York State Comptroller’s Office, Arjuna Capital, As You Sow, First Affirmative Financial Network, and the Unitarian Universalist Association. Announcement

Germany’s Allianz SE said its Allianz Capital Partners (ACP) arm invested over €400m in 2013 on behalf of the Allianz insurance companies by acquiring nine wind parks in four European markets – taking the Group’s total commitment in renewables to over €1.75bn. The most recent deal was the acquisition of the operational 24MW Cottbuser See wind farm in Brandenburg, Germany. ACP’s Head of Renewable Energy David Jones said: “The renewable energy sector will remain one of the preferred alternative investment asset classes for Allianz in 2014.” Link

BayernLB is providing term debt financing for First Wind’s 150MW Route 66 project, its first in Texas. Morgan Stanley and Santander acted as joint lead arrangers, as well as committing tax equity into the $206m deal. Boston-based First Wind added: “Morgan Stanley Commodities is providing a long-term ERCOT [Electric Reliability Council of Texas] power hedge and BayernLB is providing term debt financing for the project.”


Computer giant Apple is reportedly using “name-and-shame” tactics to cut the amount of conflict minerals in its products. The Financial Times quoted the company’s senior vice-president of operations, Jeff Williams, as saying that it is now able to verify for the first time that none of the tantalum used in its devices had come from mines in conflict regions. Apple was now urging “conflict-free” audits for gold, tin and tungsten suppliers.h6. Governance

Dexia Asset Management, one of the European pioneers of socially responsible investment (SRI), has changed its name to Candriam, which stands for Conviction and Responsibility In Asset Management. It follows the acquisition of the firm by New York Life Investments earlier this month. Candriam manages €73bn in assets with management centres in Brussels, Paris, Luxemburg and Sydney. Link

Representatives from major investors such as CalPERS, CalSTRS, Capital Group, Fidelity, State Street Global Advisors, TIAACREF, T. Rowe Price, and Vanguard, as well as the Council of Institutional Investors, are due to attend the NACD Investor Summit, organised by the National Association of Corporate Directors on February 25 in Washington. The NACD said: “Since investors are exerting their influence more than ever, corporate directors must be prepared to not only engage in an ongoing dialogue with shareholders, but must also be ready to take appropriate action.”

Germany’s largest pension fund, the Bayerische Versorgungskammer (BVK), has awarded UK fund-of-fund manager Pantheon Ventures with a new €504m global private equity mandate. Under the mandate, Pantheon will invest in primary buyout, growth equity and venture capital funds in North America, Europe and Australia. The BVK said an important reason for its third consecutive mandate to Pantheon was the firm’s responsible approach to private equity investments. The BVK and Pantheon are both signatories to the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). In keeping with the PRI, Pantheon says it scrutinises its private equity funds and their underlying holdings to determine their attitude toward sustainability and “to what extent we need to engage with the funds to help improve performance in this area.”

The City of Philadelphia Board of Pensions and Retirement has reportedly filed a claim against seven global banks alleging foreign exchange market manipulation. The Financial Times said it was the first US class-action lawsuit to include original research – compiled by consulting firm Fideres for the plaintiffs -showing unusual FX price spikes. The banks facing the claims include Barclays and UBS, the FT added.