RI ESG Briefing, March 13: Pension funds advised to vote against Barclays pay

The round-up of ESG news


Canadian banking giant CIBC says that in the last three years, it has led, co-led or participated in financings totalling over C$6bn (€3.9bn) for renewable energy projects, including hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and biogas. In 2013 alone, CIBC lent $350m towards $2.7bn of financing for renewable power projects, including wind, solar and geothermal.
It said in its new Corporate Responsibility Report: “In addition to protecting the bank from undesired risks, our environmental review process often helps our clients better understand their own risks and liabilities in order to effectively manage them.”

The UK’s Green Investment Bank, which is currently owned by the government, should eventually be owned by the private sector, its chairman Lord Smith told the National Association of Pension Funds’ investment conference in Edinburgh. Smith added he would like to see the bank diversify into asset management and banking, according to reports.


The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the US government’s development finance institution, has held its inaugural “Impact Awards”. It presented eight awards across six categories. Winners included: SunEdison, ContourGlobal Togo, Global Partnerships, Inter-Mac International, Medical Credit Fund, International Rescue Committee, Helios Investment Partners and Ellicott Dredges.

Malaysia’s Securities Commission reportedly plans to introduce guidelines for the issuance of “socially responsible” Sukuk, or Islamic bonds. Reuters said the “SRI sukuk” initiative was announced by Prime Minister Najib Razak in his annual budget speech last October. It’s hoped the guidelines would attract issuers and investors that are familiar with socially responsible investing but haven’t yet ventured into the sukuk market.

Croydon Council in south London is set to make a £10m (€12m), possibly rising to £20m, social investment into a property fund run by homelessness charity Broadway. The commitment is going into the Real Lettings Property Fund, run by social impact fund manager Resonance and the charity. Resonance aims to create a seven-year, closed-ended fund returning 5-8% after inflation. Link. Governance

Sixty council pension funds in the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) are reportedly being advised to vote against the re-election of Sir John Sunderland, chair of Barclays’ remuneration committee. The Times said they are also being recommended to vote against the pay report at Barclays’ annual meeting next month.

Investors including the Netherlands’ PGGM backed a shareholder proposal at Franklin Resources calling for the asset management holding company to divest companies that contribute to genocide. The motion for the meeting on March 12 had been filed by individual shareholder William Rosenfeld and PGGM said: “Franklin Resources could substantively address the issue of human rights to a greater degree given the inherent or potential reputational risks related to investments in high risk markets such as Sudan.” Other investors backing the resolution included the Florida State Board of Administration, AFSCME Employees Pension Plan, Christian Brothers Investment Services, Trillium Asset Management and Calvert Funds. Funds voting against the proposal included the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, Norges Bank Investment Management, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), and CalSTRS.

The Swedish government has confirmed a plan to close two of its state buffer AP funds. It will also revamp the remaining funds’ investment strategy and governance structures. The move accepts many of the recommendations of an inquiry in 2012.

ECGS, Expert Corporate Governance Services, says it strongly supports Phitrust Active Investors’ engagement initiatives and encourages other investors. PhiTrust, the activist French engagement fund, has said it will attempt to file external resolutions to the 2014 General Meetings of four companies, each under a combined Chairman/CEO. They are: Accor, Renault, Safran and Société Générale. ECGS comprises Proxinvest (France), DSW (Germany), Shareholder Support (Netherlands), Ethos (Switzerland), Responsible Investment Group (GIR, Canada) and Frontis Governance (Italy).