RI ESG Briefing, May 15: Private equity giant partners with anti-corruption NGO

The round-up of environmental, social and governance news


TIAACREF, the US pension fund and financial services group has announced the close, at $2bn (€1.55bn), of the TIAACREF Global Agriculture investment company, which is investing in farmland in major grain-exporting nations. The company has taken in investments from other pension funds including AP2, British Columbia Investment Management Corporation and the Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec, primarily to invest in farmland in the US, Australia and Brazil.

The C$117.1bn (€91bn) Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and Hastings Funds Management, the Australian infrastructure manager, have jointly entered into a contract with the government of New South Wales for a 50-year lease of the Sydney Desalination Plant (SDP). The bid values SDP at A$2.3 billion (C$2.3 billion).

The International Finance Corporation is investing up to $55m in equity in SunEdison to support the global solar developer in installing 600 megawatts of solar capacity in emerging markets over the next three years. SunEdison will develop build and operate the solar plants in the regions of South Asia, South East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.


Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) the $62.3bn private equity giant, has announced a partnership with global anti-corruption NGO Transparency International. KKR said the tie-up would “further enhance our investment and company stewardship processes, specifically in the field of business integrity”. Announcement

The US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has committed $87.5m to its first fund-of-funds for impact investing. The investment into the Sarona Frontier Markets Fund 2 LP proposes to invest in 12-18 private equity funds that target market-based returns while investing in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in frontier and emerging markets.

MicroRate, the microfinance rating agency, has launched Luminis, a web-based, analytical platform on microfinance funds. The site aims to provide investors with objective data and analysis to identify, compare, evaluate, and monitor microfinance funds. The project is supported by LuxFLAG and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and currently has information on 80 microfinance fundsh6. Governance

Just over 28% of shareholders in Enbridge, the Calgary-based energy company, supported a resolution tabled by NEI Investments at the company’s May 9 annual meeting for a report on how it is managing risks related to First Nations groups opposition to the company’s Northern Gateway oil pipeline project in British Columbia.

The TMAM-GO Japan Engagement Fund (JEF), a joint venture of Tokio Marine Asset Management (TMAM) and London-based Governance for Owners, has been launched with seed capital from institutional investors including Sweden’s AP4 government pension buffer fund. The Tokyo-based JEF team of Japanese nationals will engage with Japanese companies.

A group of Chevron shareholders led by the Unitarian Universalist Association have asked the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to determine whether the oil giant has been violating disclosure obligations relating to a judgment by an Ecuador court last year, which found that the oil giant had dumped more than 16bn gallons of toxic waste into the rainforest. In a letter to SEC Chair Mary Schapiro, the investors cite a report by Graham Erion, a Canadian securities lawyer, that alleges that Chevron was “publishing false or materially misleading information” on the judgment.

Proxy voting firm Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) is telling Goldman Sachs shareholders to vote in favor of the investment bank’s compensation plan as laid out in the proxy statement. “Goldman continues to take a discretionary approach to determining NEOs’ [named executive officers] annual compensation, but as noted above, CEO pay and performance appear to be reasonably aligned on a long-term basis at this time,” ISS wrote. Link

Proxy advisory firms Ivox and Glass Lewis have advised shareholders not to discharge the board of Deutsche Bank at its annual meeting on May 31, according to a report in Bloomberg News.

The Trades Union Congress, the UK’s labour union umbrella body, says binding shareholder votes are not enough to keep top pay in check. The TUC argues that allowing workers to sit on companies’ pay committees would introduce a touch of “the real world” to the process of setting top pay. Binding votes were proposed in last week’s Queen’s Speech.