RI ESG Briefing, Sept. 5: Investors get independent chair motion onto News Corp. proxy

The round-up of environmental, social and governance news

Environmental

Low Carbon Accelerator, the UK-listed clean investment vehicle, says it now in the “final phase” of due diligence with potential buyers of its assets. LCA announced it would sell-off its assets earlier this year with the aid of advisory firm Cogent Partners. Link

Climate Change Capital, the environmental investment firm now part of agri-business Bunge, has released a new publication by Steven Gray and Nicholas Tatrallyay looking at how the private sector facility of the Green Climate Fund can be deployed to mobilise investment in climate mitigation projects. “The Green Climate Fund and private finance: Instruments to mobilise investment in climate mitigation projects” is available here

Ceres, the US-based advocacy group, has released a new supply chain management tool for companies, the Supplier Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ): Building the Foundation for Sustainable Supply Chains. Aiming to catalyze better supply chain practices, Ceres says the questionnaire will be useful for all companies seeking to strengthen their supply chain engagement as a “conversation starter” to use with suppliers. Link

Social

Consulting firm KPMG was awarded a A$268,000 (€216,718) contract by the New South Wales government in Australia to assist in project management and development of the state’s new Social Benefit Bonds (SIBs). The NSW government announced in its 2011-12 budget that it planned to establish Australia’s first SIBs to address a range of social challenges. In March this year, NSW Treasurer Mike Baird said the government had selected Social Finance and Mission Australia to develop c.A$7m pilot to assist 500 repeat prison offenders. And a consortium of the Benevolent Society, Westpac Corporation and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia were to put together a c.A$10m to support 550 Out-Of-Home Care (OOHC) families over five years. Tender announcement

Generation Investment Management, the sustainable fund management firm co-founded by former US Vice President Al Gore, has lifted its stake in New York-listed real estate management giant Jones Lang Lasalle to 5.25%. Generation now holds 2.3m shares in JLL, whose LaSalle Investment Management is a UN PRI signatory.h6. Governance

Institutional investors have succeeded in getting their proposal for an independent chairman at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. onto the media giant proxy’s ballot. The resolution, which cites the damage done to the company by the phone hacking scandal, has been tabled by the Christian Brothers Investment Services, with co-filers the UK’s Dorset County Pension Fund and the Greater Manchester Pension Fund. News Corp. is recommending its shareholders to vote against the proposal. The company’s annual general meeting takes place in Los Angeles on October 16. Link to proxy

Campaign group Fair Pensions has released a briefing for investors looking at how oil major Shell has implemented recommendations by the UN Environment Programme following a study of oil pollution in Ogoniland in Nigeria. “This investor briefing assesses the adequacy of Shell’s update and identifies issues requiring further clarification,” Fair Pensions says. Link

The European Commission is seeking feedback on a Draft Guide on Human Rights and SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises). In the Communication on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) published last October, the Commission identified the development of guidance for SMEs, based on the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, as a priority. Now a Draft Guide has been produced to provide advice on how to meet the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Rights. The consultation is open until September 26. Link

The World Bank’s private finance arm the International Finance Corporation has agreed to buy a stake in Canada-listed Botswana-based diamond and precious metals exploration company Tsodilo Resources Ltd. After a private placement, the IFC will hold around 27.76% of the company, which holds prospecting licences through Botswana registered subsidiaries Newdico and Gcwihaba Resources. Link

Switzerland’s attorney general has reportedly opened a criminal investigation into banking giant UBS. It follows a complaint from the Bruno Manser Fund environmental group which has made allegations about the laundering of proceeds from corrupt timber logging operations in Borneo through various UBS accounts in Hong Kong.