RI ESG Briefing, October 31: UK local authority funds engage firms on diversity

The round-up of environmental, social and governance news


Artemis Investment Management, the UK fund management firm with around £12.1bn (€15bn) under management, has disclosed a stake of 12.03% in Renewable Energy Generation Ltd., the UK-listed developer and operator of renewable energy projects. REG has two main subsidiaries: REG Windpower and REG Bio-Power; on October 3 it announced £16m financing from The Co-operative Bank for two wind farm projects totaling 16MW.

Australia’s Clean Energy Council has released a report showing that the country’s 20% Renewable Energy Target has delivered A$18.5 (€14.8bn) in investment – with the potential for A$18.7bn if retained. The Melbourne-based Council had commissioned the report – The Benefits of the Renewable Energy Target to Australia’s Energy Markets and Economy – from consulting firm SKM MMA.

German offshore wind developer Windreich has agreed to sell the 210MW Deutsche Bucht (German Bight) project in the North Sea to an unnamed investment group. The deal will see Windreich keep responsibility for the turnkey erection, commissioning and future operation of the €1bn project. Link


Big Society Capital (BSC), the UK’s new social investment bank, has called for both specialist social and/or “more mainstream fund managers” to put forward investment ideas for new funds focused on outcomes and payment by results. The so-called “outcomes finance” market – exemplified by the Peterborough Prison bond initiative – is “developing so fast that BSC is already seeking ideas for an additional investment fund focused on outcomes finance, to supplement the original results fund that BSC has made a cornerstone commitment to”.

Global industrial conglomerate Ingersoll Rand has joined the Advisory Council of the new Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB). Jeff Hynds, director of innovation at the company’s Center for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability (CEES), becomes a SASB Advisory Council member. Ingersoll Rand is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and relocated its domicile to Ireland from Bermuda in 2009.h6. Governance

The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, which represents 55 local authority pension funds in the UK with combined assets of over £115bn, has written to 36 companies on the FTSE 350 encouraging them to consider diversity in boardroom appointments. It said that so far 12 companies have responded to the letter, highlighting the steps they are taking to implement the government-backed Davies Review, which asks companies to achieve 25% women on the board by 2015. The LAPFF said that many firms highlighted their strategies to address diversity generally, but added that there “continues to be a serious disconnect between diversity in the workforce and diversity at the senior executive and director level”.

A group of faith investors, led by the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, has withdrawn a shareholder resolution on tobacco sales at leading US drug retailer Walgreens following dialogue with the company. The proposal was originally submitted for the company’s 2013 proxy statement. The investors had sought an independent ethics committee to look at Walgreens’ continued sale of cigarettes. “I appreciate the opportunity to dialogue with you and other ICCR [Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility] shareholders on this important issue,” wrote Tom McCaney, Associate Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at the Sisters of St. Francis, to Walgreens’ General Counsel Thomas Sabatino.

The £500m London Borough of Hounslow Pension Fund has awarded a £73,000 proxy-voting advisory contract to advisory firm PIRC. It says: “One of the requirements of the Fund is to engage with these companies via its voting rights to ensure that the companies, in which LBH invests, seek to follow good corporate governance practices as per the industry guidelines.” It anticipates voting on around proximately 200 events a year.

News and data giant Thomson Reuters has been selected by US development agency USAID to be part of an effort to improve the security of land and property rights around the world. USAID’s Strengthening Tenure and Resource Rights (STARR) contract supports objectives related to enhanced food security, climate change adaptation, conflict prevention, natural resource management, and economic growth. Thomson Reuters will take a leadership role by working with other consortium team members to propose solutions for USAID projects supporting foreign governments and the people and communities most in need of secured land and property rights. Link