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RI ESG Briefing, May 26: Allianz, State Street, Westpac, AP7, Hermes EOS

The round-up of the latest ESG news

Environmental

Allianz and State Street have partnered in the financing of a 200MW wind farm in Texas. E.ON Climate & Renewables North America, Allianz Capital Partners, and State Street Corporation announced tax equity financing in exchange for a partial interest in the Colbeck’s Corner facility east of Amarillo. Announcement

Westpac, Australia’s second largest bank, has reportedly entered the green bond market, with the issue of a A$500m (€322m) Westpac Climate Bond aimed at financing a A$1bn clean energy portfolio, including low-carbon commercial buildings. Renew Economy cited the bank as saying the issue, certified by the Climate Bonds Initiative, dew a strong response from investors. Green bank the Clean Energy Finance Corporation committed A$90m as a cornerstone investor.

The World Bank Board has approved a $625m loan to support the Government of India’s program to generate clean electricity through a network of roof-mounted solar panels. The loan will back the installation of enough grid-connected panels to generate 40 MW of electricity, through providing funds to developers looking to invest in commercial and industrial rooftop systems through the State Bank of India. Mohua Mukherjee, the World Bank’s task team leader for the project, said the initiative will “improve the investment climate for solar panels” as well as making finance available.

Social

Syntrus Achmea Real Estate & Finance, the Dutch investor, is to take part in a €300m makeover of Amsterdam’s red light district, according to IPE Real Estate. It said th PPP project – in cooperation with Amsterdam city council and housing corporation Stadgenoot – has the aim of transforming part of the area into residential housing and a retail area.

In the first initiative of its kind to benchmark corporate chemicals management, a group of 24 businesses, including Levi’s, Seagate and Johnson & Johnson have joined the Chemical Footprint Project – an effort by NGOs, universities and sustainability consultants. “First came carbon, now it is time to measure the corporate chemical footprint. This is the obvious next step in sustainable business practice. Publishing the chemical footprint will close a gap in sustainability reporting, something really sought after by investors and it will help purchasers find the best suppliers,” said Sonja Haider, Senior Business and Investors advisor with the NGO ChemSec, one of the contributors to the project.h6. Governance

US union-linked investor Amalgamated Bank and Swedish pension fund Sjunde AP-Fonden (AP7) have reportedly been appointed co-lead plaintiffs in a purported class action challenging Facebook’s plan to create a new class of non-voting stock. Grant & Eisenhofer and Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check have been named as co-lead counsel, according to Bloomberg.

Norway is planning to take a step towards using its giant Government Pension Fund Global sovereign fund as a way to combat the use of tax havens, according to a Reuters report citing politicians on the Storting (parliament) finance committee. “We need to clarify the extent of the fund’s exposure to tax havens,” finance committee chairman Hans Olav Syversen was quoted as saying.

Hermes Equity Ownership Services, the engagement arm of the fund manager ultimately owned by the BT Pension Scheme, has recommended that its clients vote against the discharge of both the management and the supervisory board at Volkswagen’s annual general meeting on June 22. “We believe the management board has failed to ensure compliance with laws and regulations, as required under section 76 I German Stock Corporation Act, and failed to put in place an effective monitoring system that meets the requirements of section 91 II of the German Stock Corporation Act,” Hermes said. It added it believes VW’s supervisory board lacks a sufficient level of independent members. “In our view, this may have contributed to the apparent deficiencies in its monitoring of the management board. We also believe that the company’s declaration regarding the German Corporate Governance Code is wrong with regard to the supervisory board’s level of independence.”

Chief executive pay at US listed companies is being driven “nearly flat” by economic uncertainty, slowing revenue growth and negative shareholder returns – according to the Korn Ferry Hay Group 2015 CEO Compensation Study. It said CEOs received the lowest pay increase in five years and for the first time also in five years, shareholders experienced a negative return. The ninth annual study examined all forms of pay for CEOs at 300 companies with revenue in excess of $9.2 billion in fiscal year 2015.