Return to search

RI ESG Briefing, March 4: PRI working with EU Commission on fiduciary duty roadmap

The latest ESG news

Environmental

Deutsche Bank has reportedly issued a report showing the solar market will generate $5trn in revenue by 2030. And it describes solar plus storage as the next “killer app”, according to Renew Economy. It cited the 175-page study, put together by a team led by Vishal Shah, as saying the solar market will increase 10-fold in 15 years.

The University of Edinburgh is reportedly
facing a call from its academics to exit the fossil fuel and armaments sectors. There has been an open letter signed by academics from the institution, which has one of the largest endowment funds in the UK, at £230m. Blue & Green Tomorrow said the letter was released ahead of a meeting looking at the options for fossil fuel divestment, with the university set to announce a decision next month.

AMP Capital, the asset manager with more than US$118bn (€105bn) under management, is to be appointed as the adviser to GII, a Japanese company that invests in renewable energy assets across Japan. Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation (MUTB), which formed a capital alliance with AMP Capital in 2011, is a silent partner in the company. GII will invest in renewable energy infrastructure such as solar photovoltaic generation facilities across Japan. Its first acquisition will be an operating, 2MW solar power generation facility located in Miyazaki prefecture.

People

Vicki Benjamin has been named as Chief Financial Officer of Calvert Investments, the US-based socially responsible funds firm with $13.6bn under management. She is a former Senior Partner and Director at KPMG in Boston; prior to that, she was Chief Accounting Offer/Controller at Columbia Management (formerly Liberty Financial). She takes over from company veteran Ronald Wolfsheimer, who has retired.

Social

The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET), has joined forces with British Council (Thailand) and Thai Social Enterprise Office (TSEO) to organize a special Social Development Forum under the topic “Social Investment Market: Beyond CSR and Philanthropy”. It opens a forum for investors, stakeholders in the Thai capital market and the general public to meet and exchange views on opportunities and challenges associated with social enterprise (SE), to promote social investment concept, encouraging them to participate in “solving environmental and social problems, building sustainability for all”. Link. Governance

The Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) is working with a range of players including the European Commission’s Directorate General (DG) Environment on a fiduciary duty ‘roadmap’; the latter is also conducting a parallel study focusing on resource efficiency and the fiduciary duties of investors. The work comes 10 years after the groundbreaking Freshfields report into fiduciary duty. Preliminary findings from a series of roundtables and interviews will be presented to investors in June 2015, ahead of a full report in September. “The central objective of this project is to understand why investors are not systematically integrating ESG as part of their fiduciary duty,” the PRI says. Other contributors include the UN Global Compact, the UNEP Finance Initiative and the Inquiry: Design of a Sustainable Financial System.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) has begun a consultation on its Corporate Governance Code. There are three main points: 1) Companies use their “Corporate Governance Report” as a comprehensive tool for additional disclosures whether they “comply or explain” the designated Principles of the Corporate Governance Code; 2) Companies need to issue Corporate Governance Report by the end of December 2015 as a transitional treatment of the first year; 3) TSE is emphasizing that the OECD’s Principles of Corporate Governance is the foundation of the Corporate Governance Code. The final meeting of the Council of Experts on corporate governance will be held on March 5 to finalise the Corporate Governance Code to be effective on June 1. Link

Connecticut State Treasurer Denise Nappier has reportedly proposed linking a portion of Wal-Mart Stores’ executive compensation to a measure of “employee engagement”. Nappier, who oversees $40m of the US retail giant’s shares, wants the Securities and Exchange Commission to allow a vote on her executive pay resolution at the company’s annual meeting in June, Reuters reported.

ESG research firm Sustainalytics’ latest Governance in Brief publication focuses on why several major UK banks are “bowing to shareholder pressure” over high pay and weak performance. It said investors unhappy about performance have pushed RBS, Lloyds Banking Group and Barclays to lower their management bonus figures for 2014. “Meanwhile, shareholders at Standard Chartered have successfully pushed for a change in the management and board teams.”

Law firm Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd says it has filed a class action suit on behalf of an unnamed institutional investor against IT giant IBM. The complaint, filed in the US States District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleges that the company and its executives “issued false and misleading statements” and/or omitted adverse facts regarding the true value of IBM’s micro-chip manufacturing operations.