RI ESG Briefing, June 21: Swiss association seeking proposals from ESG providers

The round-up of the latest environmental, social and governance news


Impax Asset Management AIFM Limited, the London-based specialist investor, says it has obtained a package of bank funding provided by Norddeutsche Landesbank, comprising a senior term loan and working capital facilities to be used for the development and working capital for an investee company of a fund managed by Impax that owns a wind farm located in County Kerry, Ireland (Glanaruddery Windfarms) that is currently being built. Terms weren’t disclosed.

ExxonMobil is reportedly suing a Massachusetts attorney general following a renewed second probe into allegations that the oil giant misrepresented its knowledge of climate change. Maura Healey is the second attorney general to join New York State Attorney Eric Schneiderman’s investigation into Exxon’s research records after Claude Walker, representing the U.S Virgin Islands, launched a similar probe. Exxon writes in its lawsuit that the Massachusetts investigation is “nothing more than a weak pretext for an unlawful exercise” and that the coalition of Democratic attorneys general are “abusing the power of government to silence” the oil firm. Link

The carbon-cutting efforts of the Paris climate agreement will be nullified if crude oil prices fail to rise from their current slump, a report in the journal Nature Energy suggests, with analysts warning that energy efficiency improvements would be “considerably” hindered if current prices persist until 2050. Sustaining the value per barrel at around $110-$120 would, on the other hand, give a mild boost to carbon-cutting efforts, thanks to a quicker drop in competing fuel prices and uptick in the development of new technologies. The difference between the two extremes amounts to 5-20% of the carbon budget outlined in the Paris agreement, notes the report’s lead author David McCollum.


The Calvert Social Investment Foundation has issued a $500m bond where investors can choose where their money is used, with projects including affordable housing, small business support and clean energy solutions globally. It is the latest issue from the Foundation, the charitable arm of US socially responsible investment firm Calvert, which has raised $1.3bn in through social bonds since 1995. Speaking to Responsible Investor, Justin Conway, vice president of Investment Partnerships at the Calvert Foundation said its current bond issue had already raised $300m from a range of investors including pension funds, high net worth investors and individual investors.

The UK’s Parliamentary International Development Committee has recommended creating better incentives for sustainable development in capital markets in a report on the UK implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The report, which cites evidence from Aviva Investors, suggests providing more clarity around ESG and fiduciary duty and improved corporate disclosure on sustainability issues.h6. Governance

The Swiss Association for Responsible Investments (SVVKASIR) is seeking requests for proposal from ESG providers to provide screening and/ or engagement services for its members. RPF documents will be available from Tuesday, 21 June 2016 on the following link. The deadline for submitting the RFP documents is close of business on June 30.

The British Venture Capital Association (BVCA) has introduced a new category to its responsible investment awards to be announced at its summit on October 6. The new RI Award Category – ‘Outstanding Individual Contribution’ – can be nominated by anyone, not just BVCA members, giving the chance for those keen to promote better RI practice in the private equity (PE) sector to champion industry leaders. The new award joins two existing RI awards that recognise large and small PE firms for ‘overall ESG framework’ and ‘ESG engagement with portfolio companies’. The BVCA RI Awards judging panel are: Patricia Hamzahee, Integriti Capital; Adam Black: Coller Capital; Jonathan Ord, Local Pensions Partnership; Hugh Wheelan, Responsible Investor; David Williamson, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Nominations close on 9 September. Link

The Singapore Exchange has introduced sustainability reporting on a “comply or explain” basis. Loh Boon Chye, CEO of SGX, said, “SGX supports our listed companies’ efforts to meet the growing interest in sustainability from shareholders and potential investors worldwide. The annual reporting of non-financial information will enhance the visibility of SGX-listed companies among investors who seek sustainable investment and want to review a company’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts.”

The AP2 Female Index 2016 has found the number of women on boards of Nasdaq-listed companies is 30.7% compared to 27.9% last year. Other key findings include a rise of women on executive management boards from 19.5% last year to 20.9% this year. Elsewhere, the Women in Financial Services report by consultancy Oliver Wyman has found globally one-fifth of boards and 16% of executive committees in financial services are comprised of women. The report says at current progress, female representation at executive committee level is set to hit 30 percent in 2048

Female directors represented 42% of new board appointments to Australia’s top 200 listed companies, a report from the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) has revealed. The figure means that 23.6% of directors at ASX 200 firms are now women, compared to a little over 8 percent in 2009, when the AICD first started keeping figures, and marks a significant step towards the organization’s target of 30% female directors by the end of 2018.

Proxy advisory firm PIRC recommended its shareholder clients in Volkswagen oppose a move to discharge the German auto maker’s board, citing governance weaknesses that remain even after the fallout from the firm’s diesel emissions scandal. PIRC advises that despite the resignation of CEO Martin Winterkorn, who also served as the chairman of Volkswagen’s board, problems persist including “the overlap of major shareholders and controlling functions”, a sales-based remuneration system an “apparently inefficient” internal audit process. A vote against approving the firm’s dividend was also recommended ahead of Volkswagen’s AGM today (June 22).