RI round-up August 25

RI’s regular round-up of the most important responsible investment news.

APG Asset Management, fund manager of the €180bn ABP pension fund, has named Angelien Kemna as its new CIO, replacing Roderick Munsters, who joins Robeco, the Rotterdam-based fund manager as chief executive at the beginning of September. Kemna, a former global chief investment officer and then CEO at ING Investment Management Europe, has a specialist interest in sustainability and corporate governance issues. Since September 2007, she has been a part-time professor of corporate governance and financial econometrics at the School of Economics of the Erasmus University Rotterdam, a position she is expected to retain. Dick Sluimers, CEO of APG, said Kemna was an attractive candidate because of her experience and her views on sustainability and governance in the investment policies of institutional investors, and on the important role in society of the collective pension system.
Zoe Knight, former senior director of SRI research at Merrill Lynch, who was made redundant earlier this year when the US bank cut its sustainability research team, has joined Cheviot Asset Management, the London-based boutique fund management partnership launched by Michael Kerr-Dineen and other former UBS advisers in 2006. Knight has been hired as senior analyst and fund adviser at Cheviot Sustainable Investments. As part of its sustainable investment drive, Cheviot has also hired Claudia Quiroz from Henderson Global Investors where she was part of the team managing the Global Industries of the Future funds. Quiroz is fund manager of Cheviot’s sustainable and thematic funds.Women hold just 242 board seats out of a possible 2,742, or 8.8%, in companies in the FTSE350 index, according to research carried out by The Co-operative Asset Management for UK newspaper, The Observer. The research found there were 34 female executive directors out of 970, or 3.5%, with the remaining 208 serving as non-executives, while 132 companies did not have a single female on their board.
Six firms have agreed to calls by the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) for greater diversity in their board of directors. CalSTRS withdrew proposals with Digital River, Hansen Natural, Waddell and Reed, Kirkby Corp., Eagle Materials and Helix Energy. The six companies said they would actively consider diversity as a criterion in their board member recruitment process. Anne Sheehan, CalSTRS director of corporate governance, said: “We hope this year’s progress will serve as an indicator that companies are more willing than they have been to developing more diverse boards.”
Research from a survey of Fortune 500 companies by Catalyst showed the number of women directors had risen slightly from 14.8% in 2007 to 15.2% in 2008.
Swiss strategic sustainable research consultant, onValues, is looking to hire a new partner in its Zurich office.
Link to further details
Insight Investment says it is currently “business as usual” for its responsible investment team following the £235m cash and shares purchase of the fund manager by Bank of New York Mellon announced last week. BNY Mellon has said it has no plans to integrate Insight with

Newton Investment Management, its UK fund management arm. Insight currently manages about £80bn in institutional client money.
A group of eighty US professors of law, business, economics and finance has written to the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) urging it to adopt its current proposals for shareholders to replace directors as part of the company’s proxy card – the corporate ballot sent by the company to all shareholders. The professors said: “We believe that providing shareholders with rights to place director candidates on the company’s proxy card, as the SEC proposes doing, would improve director accountability.”

The International Finance Corporation, part of the World Bank Group, has published its latest Sustainable Investment Country Report with a focus on India. The report was carried out by TERI-Europe. It follows a recent report on Brazil. The next report will be on China.Link to report
The Association of British Insurers (ABI), has said it is discussing plans with its members to lobby against so-called “guaranteed bonuses” by prompting banks to end potential buy-outs of banker contracts and instead ensure they are “parked” with current employers for defined deferral periods based on clear performance criteria. Peter Montagnon, head of investment affairs at the ABI, said: “Guaranteed bonuses are a serious problem. We are floating this idea with our members. It could gradually do away with the need for guaranteed bonuses.“The Australian parliament has reached agreement on a target for 20% of the country’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2020. The deal is also expected to herald further debate on emissions trading laws that have been rejected by the country’s senate.
September 4 is the deadline for investors to sign the 2009 Investor Statement on a Global Agreement on Climate Change
 produced ahead of December’s Copenhagen conference by an international collaboration of four investor and finance sector associations – the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), the Investor Group on Climate Change/Australia and New Zealand (IGCC Australia/New Zealand) and UNEP Finance Initiative. The Statement sets out the investor perspective on climate change and the key elements of a global agreement that it says will be needed to drive the financial flows necessary to address climate change.
UNEPFI e-mail contact
Asia’s pension funds are set to expand rapidly and could become global leaders in the use of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) guidelines, according to a report by the Hong Kong-based Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia (ASrIA). The report, titled: “The Time to Lead is Now: The Adoption of ESG Analysis by Asian Government Pension Funds” looks at use of ESG guidelines by the region’s pension funds.
Link to ASrIA site
Pension funds could be required to pay taxes on gains from investments in oil and gas commodities under
legislation introduced by US Senator, Ron Wyden. The bill: the Stop Tax Breaks for Oil Profiteering Act of 2009, would according to Wyden: “end the free ride that institutional investors get on profits made from the high prices of oil and natural gas — prices that have been driven higher by the high volume of institutional investment.” The Senate Finance Committee is examining the bill.
ActionAid, the global NGO, has named ten UK public pension funds it is targeting over their investments in UK-listed mining firm Vedanta, in protest at a new bauxite mine in eastern India, which they say threatens the cultural and economic rights of the local Dongria Kondh people. The charity told IPE.com that it was lobbying the UK county council pension funds of Hertfordshire, Suffolk, Leicestershire, Cheshire, North Yorkshire, Teeside and West Midlands, and the London borough pension funds of Wandsworth, Lambeth and Havering, as well as the Church of England pension fund, on the issue. Vedanta has been blacklisted by the Norwegian Government Pension Fund because of environment and human rights concerns and is currently an engagement target on these same issues by a number of institutional investors. Meredith Alexander, head of trade and corporates at ActionAid, told IPE.com: “Shareholders, including Wandsworth and other councils, are investing in a mine that will destroy a community’s way of life, at the same time as irreversibly damaging a unique environment. The councils must ask Vedanta to withdraw from the project. The destruction of the Kondh’s homeland is imminent. Shareholders have a final chance to refuse to allow their money to be used inthis way.” A spokesman for Wandsworth Borough Council, said: “The council has a paramount fiduciary duty to obtain the best possible financial return on its pension fund investments. As the law stands any shortfall in the fund’s performance would have to be met by taxpayers.”
BP and Shell are being lobbied by Greenpeace and the Platform environmental group to withdraw membership of the American Petroleum Institute (API) in protest at the organisation’s attempts to incite a public backlash against Barack Obama’s energy and climate change bill. The Guardian newspaper has reported that the API was pumping money into a series of “citizen rallies” to put pressure on the Obama administration over its support for the Waxman/Markey climate change, which comes before the Senate next month.
The world’s largest companies will reach the scientifically recommended level of greenhouse gas cuts by 2089 – 39 years too late to avoid dangerous climate change – according to a sample study of 92 of the top 100 global firms by the Carbon Disclosure Project.
The report, titled: “The Carbon Chasm” said the surveyed company’s current emissions reduction targets came to 1.9% per annum. That falls short of the minimum annual global reduction rate of 3.9% required to meet cuts of 80% by 2050 recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. At the current rate, the report said the required reductions would not be made until 2089.
Link to report