RI ESG Briefing, January 3: Trillium tables environmental resolution at Chevron

The round-up of environmental, social and governance news


Trillium Asset Management, the US sustainable funds firm, has tabled a shareholder motion on environmental practices at Chevron, saying the oil major has been “repeatedly cited for allegedly harmful environmental practices”. Boston-based Trillium, facing a subpoena from the company over its long-running legal battle over pollution in the Amazon rainforest, is calling for at least one independent board director with environmental expertise. Link

MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co, part of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway group, has bought two large California solar photovoltaic projects from solar firm SunPower Corp. SunPower will receive up to $2.5bn in proceeds and related contracts for the Antelope Valley projects, said to be the world’s largest PV development. Construction of the 570MW projects is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.

A consortium comprising German re-insurer Munich Re, General Electric and Electricité de France (EdF) has acquired Iberdrola’s operator of French wind parks for a base price of €350m. Munich Re and GE’s financial arm will each own 40% of the operator, known as Iberdrola Renovables France (IBRF). EdF will take the remaining 20% stake. IBRF operates 32 onshore parks across France with a maximum capacity of around 321 MW. Under terms of the deal, the consortium will also pay the Spanish energy firm another €50m if the wind parks fulfil certain conditions. Link


French state pension fund the Fonds de Réserve pour les Retraites (FRR) has selected three asset managers – AXA Investment Managers Paris, Financière de l’Echiquier and Kempen Capital Management – to run an actively managed sustainable growth equity mandate as part of its ESG strategy. The indicative overall amount of funds earmarked for these mandates is €200m. The tender had been launched in December 2011. Link

Lærernes Pension, the DKK53bn (€7.1bn) Danish teachers pension fund, has appointed Seattle-based Parametric Portfolio Advisors to run a $200m (€151m) emerging market equity mandate, according to a report on IPE.com. Environmental, social and governance research firm Sustainalytics would monitor frontier fixed income investments for compliance with Lærernes’ responsible investment guidelines.h6. Governance

Romania: The Bucharest Stock Exchange (BVB) has teamed up with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to launch a joint project on corporate governance. The objective is to enhance key corporate governance practices of listed companies and their disclosure, by improving the recommendations of the BVB Corporate Governance Code, and to strengthen its monitoring and implementation. The 24-month project is expected to start in the first/second quarter of 2013. The EBRD will engage a consulting company to help with the project. Link

Law firm Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd has been appointed as lead counsel in a pension fund securities class action against Wal-Mart Stores. The ‘City of Pontiac General Employees’ Retirement System v. Wal-Mart Stores’ case is pending in the Western District of Arkansas and alleges the retailer violated the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 by failing to disclose that Wal-Mart and its executives were involved in a multi-million-dollar bribery scheme at its Mexican subsidiary.

The International Integrated Reporting Council, which works to develop combined financial and sustainability reporting, plans to launch the first consultation draft of its international framework on April 16. Launches are planned in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan, the UK, the US and South Africa – marking the start of a 90-day public consultation period. Stakeholders are being invited to provide feedback by July 16 2013 ahead of V1.0 of the framework in December.

A group of leading UK institutional investors including Threadneedle Investments, the Co-Operative Asset Management, London Pension Fund Authority and Railpen have received a “pledge” from the European Commission over bank accounting rules, according to a Daily Telegraph report. It comes ahead of a review of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) set to start early this year.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, the US regulator, has defended its new rule requiring extractives companies to disclose payments to foreign governments. The SEC was responding to an October lawsuit by business groups challenging the new rule, part of the Dodd-Frank Act. It has filed a brief in a Washington federal appeals court, according to a Reuters report.