RI ESG Briefing, July 26: New corporate governance service set up in Japan

The round-up of environmental, social and governance news


Changes to subsidies for renewable electricity in the UK could incentivise up to £25bn (€31.9bn) of new investment in the economy between 2013 and 2017, the government says. “Renewable energy will create a multi-billion pound boom for the British economy, driving growth and supporting jobs across the country,” says Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey.

Banking giant Barclays has sold its 86% stake in carbon project developer Tricorona back to the Swedish company’s management – two years after buying it for $159m. Terms of the deal were not available. Link

The European Commission has approved funding for 202 new projects under the LIFE+ programme, the European Union’s environment fund. The projects cover nature conservation, environmental policy, climate change and information and communication on environmental issues. They represent a total investment of some €516.5m, of which the EU will provide €268.4m.

Acquisitions of solar photovoltaic plants more than doubled to $10.8bn in 2011 – as developers sold projects to longer-term investors according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. It said a new high of 3.9GW of projects changed hands last year, a 122% increase over 2010.


It has been reported that New York Life and Australia’s Macquarie Group are among the bidders vying for European SRI pioneer Dexia Asset Management. Bloomberg news reported that the sale may fetch at least $500m. Dexia AM has around €79bn in assets under management and is being sold by bailed out parent Dexia. Link

The UK government has launched a consultation on a new set of Sustainable Development Indicators (SDIs) to provide an overview of the country’s progress towards a “more sustainable economy, society, and environment”. Assessments on the use of natural resources are amongst the new measurements proposed. Link

Dutch banks and pension funds are investors in two companies – Italy’s Finmeccanica and Netapp of the US – that are recent suppliers to the Syrian authorities, according research commissioned by Oxfam Novib and campaign group IKV Pax Christi. The research was conducted by Dutch-based Profundo, and shows that 14 Dutch financial institutions invest in one or both companies.h6. Governance

Japan: investor relations firm J-Eurus has launched an enhanced corporate governance service package for Japanese companies with consulting firm Sodali.
It is in response to reforms introduced by the Ministry of Finance and the Tokyo Stock Exchange during the last few years, a decline in cross-shareholdings and “growing skepticism among global institutional investors about Japanese equities”. And it comes in the wake of the accounting scandal that rocked camera maker Olympus. The offering includes: corporate governance benchmarking; board evaluation; research/consultation on corporate governance and shareholder rights; institutional investor outreach, engagement and road shows; annual meetings, disclosure policy and communication with proxy firms and activist investors.

Investors and analysts are increasingly using extra-financial information in decision-making, according to new research 
from Prince Charles’ Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S), the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and communications consultancy Radley Yeldar. The 60-page research – The value of extra- financial disclosure: What investors and analysts said – provides new insight into how financial markets source, use and are influenced by extra-financial information. 

The Stock Exchange of Thailand’s Corporate Social Responsibility Institute held a seminar last month on the role of the chief executive in building a sustainable organization. The event, co-hosted by CSR Club and Thai Listed Companies Association, took place on June 29 with a keynote speech from Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong. SET Home Page

New official statistics show that the number of women in the boardrooms of the UK’s top companies has increased in the past year. Women now make up 16.7% of FTSE 100, and 10.9% of FTSE 250 boards, up from 12.5% and 7.8% respectively in 2010. Government announcement

The Committee for Economic Development (CED), the Washington-based think tank, has called for companies to “employ all possible solutions” to raise the number of women on corporate boards. That includes: setting goals; targeting talented women for promotion; publicly reporting targets and recruitment efforts voluntarily; providing active sponsorship programs for women; and employing executive search firms to increase the pool of women corporate board candidates. The CED has released a report entitled Fulfilling the Promise: How More Women on Corporate Boards Would Make America and American Companies More Competitive.