RI ESG Briefing, March 18: European Investment Bank issues first green ‘Samurai’ bond

The round-up of ESG news

Environmental

The European Investment Bank has issued a JPY5bn (€35.4m) Climate Awareness Bond (CAB) in the so-called Samurai format (a yen-denominated bond issued in Tokyo by non-Japanese companies). It is the EIB’s first CAB in yen, and the first ever green bond in the Samurai format in the market. It means yen has became the eighth currency in which the EIB has issued CABs. The bond was placed with Japanese corporate and institutional investors and the lead manager was Daiwa Securities. Announcement

The Norwegian government’s announcement that the Global Pension Fund could invest more in renewable energy has been welcomed by campaign group WWF. “We are thrilled that Norway is stepping forward to lead on renewable energy,” says Nina Jensen, CEO of WWF-Norway. “If done at scale, this will have global impact and redefine how we use money consistent with commitments to limit climate change.” A solid renewable energy mandate would send a “tremendously powerful signal” and set the standard for other international investors.

Desjardins, the C$212bn (€138bn) Canadian cooperative financial group (and the largest mortgage loan provider in Quebec), has launched a new Green Homes Program which targets new homes and renovations under various energy-efficiency programs. “Desjardins has chosen to make fighting climate change its environmental priority, and we’re committed to developing products that encourage our members to do the same,” said Pauline D’Amboise, Secretary General and Vice-President, Governance and Social Responsibility.

Social

Dutch healthcare sector pension giant Pensioenfonds Zorg en Welzijn (PFZW) and Rabobank have entered into a risk sharing transaction on a portfolio of corporate loans originated by Rabobank. It relates to a portfolio of €3.2bn consisting of more than 500 corporate loans of which more than half is provided to Dutch companies. PFZW said the tie-up shows how Dutch pension funds and banks together can stimulate investments.
PKA, one of the largest administration companies for occupational pension funds in Denmark, has invested DKK77m (€10.3m) in 86 new student housing units. It has signed a deal with real estate firm Sjælsø for the development in Copenhagen on the site of a former naval base. It builds on an existing deal to construct 458 apartments in the area.h6. Governance

The Board of Trustees of South Africa’s Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) have welcomed a disciplinary committee’s decision in the case against suspended Principal Executive Officer John Oliphant and Head of Secretariat Adri van Niekerk. The issue relates to a disputed advertising tender. The board said that during Ms. van Niekerk’s hearing today (March 18) she changed her plea from ‘not guilty’ to ‘guilty’. The GEPF said: “The presiding officer determined that, in the light of Ms. Van Niekerk’s plea and the fact that she had shown remorse for her actions, she should be issued with a final written warning as a sanction.” The case against Oliphant, who sits on the Advisory Council of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), would be determined shortly “at which time a media statement would be released”.

Walt Disney was today (March 18) facing a shareholder proposal from Legal & General Investment Management (on behalf of Hermes Equity Ownership Services), Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds, and the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS). The investors want the entertainment group to amend its bylaws to adopt a “proxy access” procedure to enable shareholders to nominate director candidates. Proxy

Asset management titan BlackRock and business body the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) have issued a call for papers that address global governance challenges. The academic community and governance practitioners are invited to submit original papers focused on emerging issues and opportunities likely to impact boardrooms over the next decade. “As long-term investors with a vested interest in good corporate governance, BlackRock is pleased to partner with the NACD, directors, and the academic community to encourage research in the field,” said Rich Kushel, deputy COO of BlackRock.

The Toronto Stock Exchange and the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada have launched a joint publication which updates and expands on information from TSX and presents information for companies as “investors pay closer attention to business issues relating to environmental and social factors”. The publication is called A Primer for Environmental & Social Disclosure.

European Union regulations aimed at limiting pay for the asset management firms have reportedly been softened so they do not disproportionately hit US and Asian houses. The Financial Times reported that the rules, under the UCITS V banner, would lead to compliance issues. But it said lobbying led by the UK have resulted in a final-hour change.