September RI global news round up

The responsible investment news you may have missed

US Institutional investors managing more than $1.5 trillion, including CalPERS and CalSTRS, have joined pressure groups Environmental Defense and Ceres to petition the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to force listed US companies to assess and disclose their financial risks from climate change. Karina Litvack, head of governance and SRI at F&C Asset Management in London, which is supporting the coalition, said: “We believe the SEC is out of step with emerging best practice related to climate disclosure. The EU Modernisation Directive already instructs companies to take account of broader social and environmental risk factors in their business strategy and reporting. And the UK Business Review likewise requires UK-listed companies to make clear narrative disclosures regarding such risk factors when they are material to the business. We would like to see the SEC set a similar standard and provide guidance to US companies.”

Peter Scales, former chief executive officer of the London Pension Fund Authority, has been appointed as chief executive of the Enhanced Analytics Initiative, the group created by institutional investors and asset managers to encourage investment banks and brokers to include extra-financial issues in their investment research.
Scales succeeds David Blood, chief executive of Generation Investment Management.

Avon and North Yorkshire county council pension funds in the UK are filing legal papers in the US to lead a class action suit against GlaxoSmithKline, the
pharmaceutical giant, for allegedly misleading the stock market about the safety of one of its drugs, reports A US judge is expected to decide this week if the lead plaintiff applications should be accepted.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) should scrap its recently proposed rules on proxy access, according to Roel Campos, SEC commissioner, reports US newspaper Pensions & Investments.
The paper said Campos told an institutional investor conference that the proposals were “very bad,” and that they should be amended to be more investor friendly. Some US pension funds argue that lobbying for shareholder access to a company’s proxy materials in order to nominate candidates for board election is the most effective mechanism to protect shareholder democracy and ensure director accountability and long-term value creation.
CalPERS has called for “responsible shareowner access” whereby investors should hold a minimum 3% of company equity for more than two years before being able to file a director nomination resolution.

AXA Investment Managers’ responsible investment team has hired Pierre Stiennon as senior investment analyst. He will report to Raj Thamotheram, director of the responsible investment department. Stiennon joins from HSBC London where he was global head of utilities research.

Michael Smith, former HSBC chairman and incoming chief executive of ANZ, the Australian financial

services group, has been attacked by BankTrack, an NGO that monitors project finance activity, over the bank’s financing of Gunns, the Australian logging company.
Banktrack has launched a website called, urging ANZ customers to write to Mr Smith over alleged environmental, economic and health impacts, which it says could be caused by Gunns following financing for a pulp mill in Tasmania. Banktrack says the pulp mill could dramatically increase logging and burning of native forest.

France is set to become one of the first countries to fully ratify the United Nations Convention on Corruption, under a draft law submitted by French Justice Minister Rachida Dati

Venture capital investments in renewable energy could reap annualised returns of more than 50% this year, according to a report by London-based research boutique New Energy Finance, reports the on-line edition of Financial News.The newspaper reports that investor commitments to the venture capital climate change sector this year are booming as a result and have reached $6bn (€4.3bn), already more than the total for last year, according to private equity research firm Venture Business Research.
One of Malaysia’s first sustainable investment funds has been launched by Kuala Lumpur-based HwangDBS Investment Management in partnership with France’s BNP Paribas Asset Management. The Environment Opportunities Fund will invest in three environmental-related sectors — renewable energy, water treatment and waste management.

UK institutional investors are expected to join US peers seeking a $100m-plus settlement from Bear Stearns, the US investment bank over claims that hedge-fund managers at the banking group mislead them about their investments, reports Financial News. The legal action against Bear Stearns has been launched by Wall Street lawyer Jake Zamansky, following the collapse of two $1bn-plus hedge funds run by the bank.