RI ESG Briefing, May 24: Goldman Sachs ‘plans $40bn renewables investment’

The round-up of environmental, social and governance news


Investment banking giant Goldman Sachs is planning to announce $40bn (€31.8bn) of investment in renewable energy projects at its annual meeting today, according to a Reuters report. The bank plans to finance deals using mostly client funds, the report added.

Private equity titan Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR) has announced it is adding seven companies to its Green Portfolio Program – its initiative which aims to identify opportunities that improve both financial and environmental performance in investee companies. The companies include Del Monte Foods and Capsugel in the US, TDC A/S in Denmark, Versatel and KION Group in Germany and Bharti Infratel and Dalmia Bharat Cement in India. Link

STOXX, the Zurich-based index provider that is part of Deutsche Boerse and the SIX Swiss exchange, has expanded its environmental, social and governance (ESG) offering. Its new Europe ESG Leaders 50, EURO STOXX ESG Leaders 50, STOXX Asia/Pacific ESG Leaders 50 and STOXX North America ESG Leaders 50 indices are in addition to its existing STOXX Global ESG Leaders Index suite. The firm has also become a signatory to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment as a service partner. Web site

CDC Climat, the carbon arm of French state investor Caisse des Dépôts, has released research into green bonds called Financing the transition to a green economy: their word is their (green) bond. Authors Romain Morel and Cécile Bordier say that while green bonds offer “alternative financing” they are not a panacea.

Germany: the Bavarian stock exchange has announced it will cease its carbon trading activities at the end of June after volumes in Europe “plunged to practically zero”. “Emissions trading will never find its feet again without radical political action,” said exchange head Christine Bortenlaenger.

The South African government has approved a further 19 wind, solar and hydropower proposals – taking to R73bn (€6.9bn) the amount of renewable-energy projects that have been given the go-ahead, according to a Bloomberg report.

India’s new five-year plan envisages a doubling of its clean power generation capacity to almost 53,000MW by 2017. The country plans to add 29,800MW of renewable power in five years, reported Bloomberg.h6. Social

The European Parliament has adopted – with a large majority – the proposed financial transaction tax (FTT). The resolution, which had 487 votes in favour, 152 against and 46 abstentions, calls for the implementation of the tax by the beginning of 2015 “even if only some member states opt for it.” “The FTT is an integral part of an exit from crisis,” said ‘rapporteur’ Anni Podimata, a Greek Socialist MEP.

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the US development finance institution, has agreed to provide $30m to the first private equity fund designed to invest in small and mid-sized Palestinian companies, the Siraj Palestine Fund I. Announcement

Consulting firm Cambridge Associates’ new socially responsible investing initiative has drawn potential commitments from US endowments and foundations, according to a report in hedge fund publication HFMWeek citing Cambridge MD Marjorie Asfour. Cambridge has around $27bn in assets under advice.

The latest edition of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Social Institutions and Gender Index was launched earlier this month in Washington. It found that social and legal discrimination against women remains a major obstacle to economic development in emerging and developing countries. Link. Governance

Californian pension fund giants CalSTRS says it will vote against the entire board of retail giant Wal-Mart following the Mexican bribery scandal. CalSTRS has 5.3m shares in the company worth $313m. Other funds voting against some or all of the board include CalPERS, the Florida State Board of Administration and the New York City funds.

Senior managers at France’s BNP Paribas bank have signed a ‘Responsibility Charter’ setting out “the precise responsibilities that we bear in relation to both the economy and society as a whole”. The commitments include following a strict business ethic and being a responsible bank. The charter has been “cascaded” through the bank and will be presented to clients during the year. Link

Proxy voting firm Glass Lewis has advised clients to vote for a proposal tabled by the New York City Comptroller at troubled natural gas firm Chesapeake Energy calling for ‘proxy access’ – greater investor say over director candidates. Chesapeake holds its annual meeting on June 8 in Oklahoma.