RI ESG Briefing, June 13: Industry veteran named as CEO of Governance for Owners

The round-up of environmental, social and governance news


Bunge Ltd., the agribusiness which is the new owner of Climate Change Capital, says it is participating in an innovative REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) project in the Brazilian Amazon. The 30-year project will avoid some 30m metric tons of CO2 emissions and generate carbon credits through the preservation of 70,000 hectares of native forest in northeastern Mato Grosso state.

The Eurofideme 2 fund managed by Natixis Environnement & Infrastructures has invested €20m in a 200MW onshore wind project in Sweden. It has invested alongside Platina Energy III LP in Sydvastanvind AB, the co-owner of the Jädraås project with developer Arise Windpower AB. In 2011, the sponsors closed a €248m financing from DnB NOR, SEB and PensionDanmark. Link

The African Carbon Asset Development (ACAD) Facility—an incubator for carbon projects steered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) —is set to expand. Based on the success of its first phase, under which 14 projects in nine countries were provided with seed funding, the German Government’s International Climate Initiative is providing ACAD with further funding for phase two. Link


Social and environmental investor Bridges Ventures has sold its stake in a UK washroom services business, Pure Washrooms Ltd., to the company’s management team – its second recent exit following the sale of the Hoxton Hotel last month. The exit will deliver a return of 22.4% IRR (internal rate of return).

Global travel technology company Sabre Holdings has joined other travel and tourism firms in signing up to the tourism Code of Conduct, which seeks to fight sexual exploitation of children. The Code is co-funded by the Swiss Government (SECO) and private sector, and supported by Ending Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT) International network, with UNICEF and the World Tourism Organization acting as advisory partners. Other firms that have signed up include: Accor Group, Carlson Group, Delta Air Lines, Hilton Worldwide and Wyndham Worldwide. Link. Governance

Governance for Owners, the shareholder engagement specialist backed by Railpen and the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), has named fund management industry veteran Stephen Cohen as its new chief executive. Founder Partner and current CEO Peter Butler – who was CEO of Hermes Focus Asset Management for six years – will continue as Founder Partner Emeritus. Cohen spent 19 years at Mercury Asset Management in London and Tokyo and had stints with Montanaro Asset Management, Troika Dialog and Putnam Investments. Link

Shareholders in advertising giant WPP rejected the company’s remuneration report by 60% at its annual meeting in Dublin today, according to reports. The firm had been the centre of a storm of protest about CEO Sir Martin Sorrell’s pay. Chairman Philip Lader was quoted saying WPP would “move forward in the best interest of our share owners and our business”.

CalPERS said its Chief Investment Officer Joe Dear has been elected to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission’s new Investor Advisory Committee. The committee, established under the Dodd-Frank Act, was created by the SEC in April. Among the 21 members of the committee are Adam Kanzer, Managing Director at Domini Social Investments, Anne Sheehan, Director of Corporate Governance at the California State Teachers’ Retirement System and Ann Yerger, Executive Director, Council of Institutional Investors.

The UK’s Investment Management Association, the fund industry body, has released its second survey looking at how fund firms are adhering to the Financial Reporting Council’s Stewardship Code. The key finding is that respondents have increased their stewardship resources by 4% and that they are prioritising their engagement on topics including strategy, remuneration, board diversity and environmental issues.

The Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund was among shareholders that helped pass the “proxy access” vote at the Nabors Industries annual meeting earlier this month, giving shareholders more say over director candidates. “As a major shareholder, the Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund works to help ensure companies are run in responsible ways that maximize long-term value,” said State Treasurer Ted Wheeler, who oversees $75bn in total. Link