RI ESG Briefing, July 10: $57bn private equity giant TPG signs up to PRI

The round-up of environmental, social and governance news

Environmental

German wind park developer Wallenborn Adria Wind is issuing €80m worth of its bonds to cover the costs of a 42MW wind park constructed in northern Croatia. The subscription period for the bonds, which have an investment grade rating (BBB+) and a coupon of 7%, ends on July 29. The bonds will begin trading two days later on m:access, the segment of the Munich bourse created for corporate debt from German small and midsize enterprises (SMEs). It will be the third such corporate bond traded there.

Staying in Germany, listed wind developer PNE Wind is fully acquiring WKN, a peer based in Husum, for €101m in cash and shares. The PNE shares will be given to the German investor Volker Friedrichsen who owned 53.4% of WKN. Friedrichsen will then have a 20% stake in PNE. WKN last made news by selling a 16MW wind park in Saxony to German insurer Allianz in 2012. Cuxhaven-based PNE recently raised €66.3m in a bond issue. Link (German)

Social

Ireland’s National Pensions Reserve Fund has teamed up with BlueBay Asset Management to launch a new lending vehicle for small and mid-sized companies in Ireland. BlueBay Ireland Corporate Credit I Ltd (BICC), which was first announced in January this year, has raised the full target amount of €450m (with a €200m commitment from the NPRF). And the “very significant level” of investment from third-party institutional investors was at the upper end of expectations. The new venture will issue notes with an approximate seven-year maturity to investors, with proceeds used to acquire and originate loans to established businesses of varying sizes.

Standard Ethics, the London-based sustainability-rating agency, has launched an index to measure the corporate social responsibility (CSR) of Italian banks. The Standard Ethics Italian Banks Index will monitor market reaction to the banks’ corporate governance. Link. Governance

Private equity giant TPG Capital Advisors, the former Texas Pacific Group with $56.7bn under management, has become a signatory to the Principles for Responsible Investment. US-based investment consulting firm Pension Consulting Alliance, which has 32 clients representing around $900bn in plan assets, has also signed up recently. Another notable recent signatory is Nomura Corporate Research and Asset Management, the US-based high-yield bond boutique.

Corporate governance pioneer Bob Monks is endorsing disgraced former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer’s campaign to become Comptroller of the City of New York. Monks, the co-founder of Institutional Shareholder Services, says: “Through his leadership of the several city employee pension funds, the Comptroller can be – in the tradition of Harrison Goldin, among others – one of the most important forces for responsible corporate conduct in the world… I endorse his candidacy unreservedly.” Link

Companies with mixed gender boards have marginally better, or similar, performance to a benchmark index, according to new findings from news and data giant Thomson Reuters. And it found that, on average, companies with no women on their boards “underperformed relative to gender-diverse boards and had slightly higher tracking errors, indicating potentially more volatility”. The study – “Mining the Metrics of Board Diversity” – looked at the level of gender diversity on corporate boards compiled from 4,100 public companies globally, using data from Thomson Reuters’ ASSET4 universe. Link

‘The Danger of Difference: Tensions in Directors’ Views of Corporate Board Diversity’ is a new academic study comprising the results from 57 interviews with corporate directors, institutional investors and recruitment firms on corporate board diversity. “It highlights numerous tensions in these views,” say authors Kimberly Krawiec of Duke University and John Conley and Lissa Broome of the University of North Carolina. Link

The UK government has launched its implementation of the Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI). Business Minister Jo Swinson announced the formation of an EITI multi-stakeholder group to decide “how the framework for reporting will operate, the scope of companies included and how payments are disclosed”. Announcement