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RI ESG Briefing, June 25: $35bn investors call for EPA action on Alaska mine

The round-up of environmental, social and governance news

Environmental

US-based responsible investment firms Trillium Asset Management and Calvert Investments are leading a group of 27 investors, representing over $35bn in assets, calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to initiate a Clean Water Act review for the controversial proposed Pebble Mine project at the headwaters of Alaska’s Bristol Bay. The project is co-owned by Northern Dynasty Minerals and Anglo American.

Global EcoPower, a France-based “turnkey” constructor of renewable energy power plants, has listed on NYSE Alternext in Paris. Global EcoPower is managed by two specialists in wind power and finance, CEO Jean-Marie Santander and Executive Vice President Philippe Perret. Market capitalisation stood at around €19.3m on the day of listing.

Eurazeo Croissance, the growth capital arm of €4bn listed investment concern Eurazeo, has bought a 93% stake, alongside company management, in electric vehicle charging specialist IES. The purchase, from Demeter Partners, valued the Montpellier-based company at €22m. IES’s client base includes Renault, Volkswagen and BMW and revenues were €14m in 2012. Eurazeo Croissance is also a shareholder in photovoltaic firm Fonroche Energie. Link

Social

The European Commission has published human rights guidance for three business sectors: employment and recruitment, ICT companies, and oil and gas companies. The guides, which are consistent with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, were developed on behalf of the European Commission by Shift and the Institute for Human Rights and Business. “This guidance meets global standards agreed in the UN while leaving enterprises the necessary flexibility to adapt their approach to their own particular circumstances,” said Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry.

Canada’s Coalition of Universities for Responsible Investment (CURI) has released a study comparing responsible investment by Canadian Universities called Endowment Evolution. It finds that the 12 largest universities’ commitments to sustainability are not being reflected in their investment policies and practices. The report adds that only Toronto’s York University explicitly references a commitment to environmental, social and governance issues as part of its investment philosophy. Just three universities (Queen’s, Toronto and York) require expertise in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues for asset management.h6. Governance

The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) has released a report on supply chain risks at leading Australian companies. Labour and Human Rights Risks in Supply-Chain Sourcing, prepared for ACSI by Regnan Governance Research and Engagement, explores sourcing patterns and labour and human rights (LHR) risks for 34 companies in the Consumer Staples and Consumer Discretionary sectors of the S&P/ASX200 Index.

EFRAG, the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group, is organizing a roundtable on July 8 on the financial reporting aspects of long-term investing business models and financial reporting issues raised in the EC Green Paper on long-term financing. There will be particular focus on the use of fair value accounting for long-term investments. It takes place in Brussels and will be chaired by EFRAG Chairman Françoise Flores.

Professors Lucian Bebchuk and Robert Jackson of Harvard Law School and Columbia Law School respectively, have responded to objections to a proposed Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rule requiring disclosure of corporate political spending. Bebchuk and Jackson served as co-chairs of the Committee on Disclosure of Corporate Political Spending, which filed the rulemaking petition to the SEC. They are also co-authors of Shining Light on Corporate Political Spending, published in April’s Georgetown Law Journal.

Campaign group Publish What You Pay (PWYP) has published letters it has received from four leading oil companies regarding their backing of the American Petroleum Institute’s lawsuit to try to reverse the extractive sector reporting provisions of the US Dodd-Frank Act. PWYP had asked them to disassociate from the lawsuit and none have agreed to do so. Link

Investors in Spanish banking group Bankia were reportedly set to protest at the bailed-out lender’s annual general meeting today (June 25). Reuters reported that shareholder activist groups have hired buses to the meeting in Valencia.

Retailer Tesco could be facing a shareholder revolt on executive pay at its annual general meeting this week (June 28). Advisory firm PIRC is urging investors to oppose the supermarket group’s remuneration report, in protest at what is seen as excessive payoffs to two departed executives. PIRC added Tesco’s pay had the potential to be “wholly excessive” going forward. Link