RI ESG Briefing, July 7: Allianz Capital Partners, Carbon Tracker, Loomis Sayles, CII, Church of England

The round-up of the latest ESG news


Allianz Capital Partners (ACP), the infrastructure investment arm of the German insurance giant, has acquired four wind parks in Austria from project developer ImWind. Financial details were not disclosed. The parks are located near the Austrian capital of Vienna and have a combined power capacity of 65MW. Under the deal, ImWind will operate the facilities on ACP’s behalf. Including this latest acquisition, ACP has invested a total of €2.5bn in the renewable energy sector. The 54 wind parks and seven solar facilities now in ACP’s portfolio can meet the energy needs of more than 800,000 households.

Environmental NGO Carbon Tracker has found that $283bn of possible Liquefied Natural Gas projects are likely to be ‘uneconomic’ in the next decade in a low demand scenario and if the world is to stay within a carbon emissions budget limiting global warming to 2C. It’s the latest in a series of Carbon Supply Cost Curves analyses (oil, coal and now gas) that identify potential high-carbon, high-cost projects that may be surplus to requirements in a lower demand and carbon-constrained world. Link

A new report from the Global Commission on the Economy and the Climate identifies 10 key economic opportunities that could close up to 96% of the gap between business-as-usual emissions and the level needed to limit dangerous climate change. The report – Seizing the Global Opportunity: Partnerships for Better Growth and a Better Climate – calls for stronger cooperation between governments, businesses, investors, cities and communities to drive economic growth in the emerging low-carbon economy. “This report shows that success is possible: we can achieve economic growth and close the dangerous emissions gap,” said former President of Mexico Felipe Calderón, Chair of the Commission.


Norway’s giant Government Pension Fund Global has been urged by an NGO to divest its holdings of almost $1bn (€901m) in Coca-Cola due to what the NGO says are the US beverage firm’s “irresponsible water management practices” in India. Norway’s FIVAS (Association for International Water Studies) campaign group unveiled a report looking into Coca-Cola’s operations in the towns of Mehdiganj, Kala Dera and Plachimada. Link

The £1.8bn (€2.5bn) Church of England Pensions Board says it saw a benefit from its ethical restrictions last year. “Our ethical policies and their resulting stock restrictions gave a financial benefit over 2014, with the ethically adjusted MSCI World Index returning about 1% more than the unadjusted index,” it said in its new annual report. “In broad terms, this will have added around 0.3% to our absolute returns at the total asset level.” Link. Governance

The Council of Institutional Investors, the US industry body representing investors with a combined $3trn in assets, has written to Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White thanking her for highlighting four of the Council’s proxy related issues in her recent remarks before the Society of Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals. The issues identified were preliminary voting results, universal proxy ballots, unelected directors and shareholder proposals. The CII said it looked forward to working with the SEC and others towards a fair and efficient proxy voting system. Home page.

Loomis, Sayles, the $241bn Boston-based asset manager, has become a signatory to the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). Other new signatories include Sweden’s Carnegie Fonder AB and Hudson Clean Energy Partners.

Campaign groups ShareAction and Global Witness are calling on MEPs to vote in favour of amendments to the draft revision of the European Union’s Shareholder Rights Directive tomorrow (July 8) which they say could improve the transparency of businesses to their investors, and help prevent tax avoidance and environmental and human rights abuses. The European Parliament is debating the issue today in a plenary session and voting tomorrow.

Ethos Foundation, the Swiss proxy firm backed by pension funds, is urging shareholders in chemicals firm Sika to join it in supporting six board directors who oppose Sika’s takeover by Saint Gobain, a French glass firm. The Burkard family, which owns a controlling stake in Sika, has called an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) for July 24 in a bid to remove the six directors, including Chairman Paul Hälg. Their removal would pave the way for Saint Gobain’s takeover, as they outnumber the pro-Saint Gobain directors 6-3. Ethos said: “The Foundation maintains its trust in the six members of the board, as they have demonstrated commitment to preserving the independence of the company and the interests of (minority) shareholders.”

Korean conglomerate Samsung has reportedly rebuffed a report by advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) that recommended its shareholders oppose the proposed merger with Cheil Industries, Samsung Group’s de facto holding company. The Korea Herald quoted a statement from Samsung’s construction and trading arm as saying it feared the report would mislead investors. The ISS recommendation comes amid a court battle between Samsung C&T and activist investor Elliott ahead of a July 17 shareholder vote on the merger deal.

UK retail stalwarts Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer are both reportedly under fire over executive and staff pay disparity. The Guardian reported they are both facing dissent from shareholders and campaigners this week over high executive rewards and low pay for staff. It said shareholder advisory groups PIRC and Manifest had raised concerns about high pay for Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe. M&S is under scrutiny for offering CEO Marc Bolland the chance to earn up to three times his salary in long-term share awards.