RI ESG Briefing, Oct. 7: Prudential Investment Management arm backs 300MW Texas wind project

The round-up of environmental, social and governance news


Capital Dynamics, the $19bn (€15bn) Swiss asset manager, has teamed up with Prudential Capital Group, the private placement investment arm of Prudential Investment Management, to announce the financial closing of the first phase of a 300MW onshore wind project in Texas called Green Pastures. The project, which is scheduled to be completed in two phases and is already under construction, is in North Texas and has a turbine supply agreement with ACCIONA Windpower for 100 units.

Canada’s Province of Ontario has issued its first green bond – a CAD-denominated green muni bond. The semi-annual coupon, or interest rate, is 1.75% over four years. Moody’s have rated the bond Aa2e. The bond’s underwriters were Bank of America Merrill Lynch, CIBC, HSBC and RBC Capital Market. The demand was over five times oversubscribed with $2.4bn of orders for the $500m bond, according to industry group the Climate Bonds Initiative. Canadian investors bought 83% of the bonds, followed by 8% in the US, 5% in Europe, and 4% in Asia. Proceeds of the bond will fund clean transportation; green buildings; clean energy and technology, forestry, agriculture and land management and climate adaption and resilience.

World clean energy investment in the first three quarters of this year was 16% ahead of the same period of 2013, at $175.1bn, according to figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. It said it was “almost certain” that 2014 will produce a bounce-back in dollars invested after two years of decline. Clean energy investment in the July-to-September quarter was $55bn, up 12% from the $48.9bn achieved in a year earlier, BNEF added.

NTR plc, the Ireland-based renewables investment group, has bought 14 250KW single turbine projects in Northern Ireland through the acquisition of KN Energy Ltd. The portfolio of projects comprises four operational sites and a further 10 development projects, most of which are at advanced stages of development. With the addition of this portfolio to its existing build out programme, NTR expects to construct, commission and operate a minimum of eighteen 250KW projects across the province within the coming 12 months, with more projects under review thereafter. NTR will manage the assets from its Dublin office, outsourcing their maintenance to a strategic partner.


UBS, the Swiss banking group, has launched a new online Materiality Assessment survey, requesting stakeholders including investors to provide their views on key topics pertaining to the global bank’s financial, economic, social and environmental performance. The bank said the assessment tool was based on the Global Reporting Initiative and that the results will be displayed in the form of a materiality matrix that it said would help the bank set its future agenda for the future, notably by targeting younger ‘millennial’ clients, which it calls the “connected generation”. UBS said the survey would take approximately two minutes on topics ranging from human rights and the environment to outsourcing and financial stability. The survey will be available until the end of the year.h6. Governance

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has announced agreements with two natural gas companies, Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and EOG Resources, whereby they will publicly disclose information on the financial risks that hydraulic fracturing poses to investors. The companies will provide information in their ‘10K’ filings to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as well as company websites, annual reports to shareholders, and environmental or safety reports, on the financial effects of regulation, litigation, and environmental impacts of their fracking operations.

Separately, Schneiderman is reportedly investigating Standard & Poor’s to determine whether the ratings agency failed to follow its own methodology in rating commercial-mortgage bonds to win business from banks. Bloomberg News cited two people with knowledge of the matter saying S&P faces scrutiny on six such deals it graded in 2011. It added spokespeople for S&P and Schneiderman declined to comment.

UK Business Secretary Vince Cable will present an update on the government’s implementation of the Kay Review on October 27 at an event entitled “Long-term investment in UK equity markets”. It is expected that he will give the government’s response to the Law Commission’s recommendations around fiduciary duty, which said existing rules should be clarified, particularly with regard to how pension trustees address ESG factors. At the same event, Simon Fraser, chairman of the new Investor Forum – a key recommendation of the Kay review – will present its founding principles and approach.

Legal & General Investment Management, the UK fund manager with £465bn (€581bn) under management, is reportedly considering voting against company director elections on diversity grounds from next year. “We are not voting on diversity yet – we are giving (companies) until 2015,” LGIM’s Corporate Governance Director Sacha Sadan was quoted as saying by Reuters.

The Philippine Stock Exchange is reportedly working with the country’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on standardizing corporate governance requirements within the next 12 months. It comes after the Philippines came last in a recent survey by the Asian Corporate Governance Association and brokerage and brokerage firm CLSA. BusinessWorld was quoting PSE President and Chief Executive Hans Sicat.

Priya Mathur, vice president of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), who also sits on the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) advisory board, has reportedly agreed to pay a new, higher fine of $4000 fine for failing to file timely campaign finance reports in 2012 and 2013. The LA Times said the enlarged penalty follows a decision by the Fair Political Practices Commission in August to reject a $1000 fine agreed upon by the agency’s enforcement staff and Mathur. Commissioners complained that she should be punished more severely because of earlier reporting violations in 2002, 2007 and 2008. Mathur has agreed to pay $4000 if the Commission approves it at a meeting on October 16.