Return to search

RI ESG Briefing, March 1: AP4, Irish strategic fund, Vestas, Access to Seeds Index, Nasdaq

The round-up of the latest ESG news

Environmental

People: Mats Andersson, chief executive of Sweden’s Fjarde AP-fonden (AP4), is stepping down after 10 years heading the state buffer fund. He will remain in his current role until a replacement is found. He said in a statement that the move would give him time to pursue other opportunities, for example that could be with a body such as the Global Challenges Foundation – given AP4’s recent work on climate change. Link (Swedish)

The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund and Scotland’s Strathclyde Pension Fund are reportedly investing in a wind-energy strategy managed by Legal & General and NTR. IPE reported that the Irish wealth fund has committed €35m to the NTR Wind 1 vehicle, which will build an onshore wind portfolio in the UK and Ireland. Citing Strathclyde’s Chair Bailie Philip Braatl, it added that the Glasgow-based investor has committed a further €50m.

Germany’s Finance Ministry has hired a consortium led by South Pole Group to conduct a study looking into the extent to which climate change could be a threat to the stability of Europe’s financial sector. A ministry spokeswoman said the consortium would seek to answer such questions as whether global temperature rise of just two degrees Celsius would prompt “stranded assets” or the extent to which climate disasters could impact bank lending. Also, the consortium would investigate which business sectors had already “priced in” climate risk and what information investors needed to ascertain such risk, she said. The study’s findings are to be published some time after June 30.

Social

The new Access to Seeds Index evaluates how the seed industry is bridging the gap with smallholder famers. It says, DuPont Pioneer and East-West Seed rank highest among leading seed companies in their contribution to achieving global food security. The index benchmarks 26 leading seed companies in terms of their contributions to improving smallholder farmer productivity. The Index is published by Access to Seeds Foundation with data provided by Sustainalytics, the ESG research firm.

The Climate Bonds Initiative, the green bonds advocacy group, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding agreeing to work together on the development of the corporate green bond market. The WBCSD is a CEO-led, global advocacy association of some 200 international companies.h6. Governance

Nasdaq announced that its Nordic and Baltic exchanges in Stockholm, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Reykjavik, Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius have committed to produce guidance on environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosure for listed companies by the end of 2016. Nasdaq Nordic said was proud to join the United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) initiative’s “Campaign to Close the ESG Guidance Gap”. It means that seven Nasdaq Nordic and Baltic exchanges are now committed to the guidance disclosure, meaning the campaign will have 15 exchanges with published guidance and 20 exchanges committed to publish guidance by the end of 2016.


Danish wind turbine firm Vestas has decided to settle a lawsuit it had brought against former Chief Financial Officer Henrik Nørremark over two deals in India that the CFO did without board approval. Vestas fired Nørremark over the deals and claimed later that they cost it €18.9m. In a statement, Vestas said it had reached a confidential settlement with Nørremark and the companies involved. “Consequently, the trial in Denmark and the pending cases in India have been withdrawn,” it said.

M.M. Warburg, a German private bank that offers sustainable funds, has confirmed that authorities have searched its headquarters for evidence of tax evasion in connection with so-called ‘cum-ex deals.’ The search was ordered by Cologne’s prosecutor who suspects that the bank, through past involvement in the deals, has gotten tax rebates not owed to it. Hamburg-based Warburg insisted, however, that it had no internal evidence to support the claim. Other banks in Germany involved with cum-ex deals include Deutsche Bank, the forerunner to J. Safra Sarasin and Maple Bank. Maple has since declared insolvency.

The Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) has reportedly recommended that the European Commission use its ambitious Capital Markets Union project to clarify that fiduciary duty requires asset owners to consider long-term factors, ESG included, in their decision-making. It also suggested, IPE reported, that it be done as part of providing guidance to the European Union’s 28 member states on responsible investment.

Dutch chemicals giant AkzoNobel has issued its first carbon-credits worth more than $500,000. The credits reward ship owners that convert their vessels to AkzoNobel’s Intersleek hull coating, which lowers CO2 emissions. The credits are the first issued since the programme was launched in 2014 in collaboration with the Gold Standard foundation, which verifies fuel saved after the switch. This news comes a week after a group of leading shipping operators called the wider industry to embrace new financing models to fund clean tech upgrades.