RI round up: Sep 19: Environment Agency PF publishes RI report

The week’s major RI shorts.

The £1.9bn (€2.4bn) UK Environment Agency Pension Fund has returned 10.6% on a three-year rolling basis and reached £223m invested in clean technology companies, according to its latest Responsible Investment Review: Link
The fund said it had carried out 868 engagements with companies on environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues in 2011 and voted on 78 shareholder environmental resolutions in 2011. The fund is currently developing a new investment strategy to help boost its commitment as a long-term responsible investor and limit its vulnerability to climate change, which includes first time allocations to infrastructure, farmland and forestry: Link to RI story

VBDO (Dutch Association for Sustainable Investors) is organising the second Dutch SRI Week from 1 until 7 October 2012. The sustainable investment programme includes the opportunity to visit companies, interesting sustainable projects and to take part in discussions on this subject of responsible investment.
Link to programme and registration:

Kommalpha, the Hanover-based asset management consultant, has teamed up with Agrifood, an agricultural consultant from nearby Göttingen, for what they say is a mission to prove that agribusiness is a “sustainable and investable” asset class for institutions. The partners say they will put together a study that shows there are many investment opportunities in agribusiness that have nothing to do with the speculation in land or foodstuffs. The study is to be published in December. Earlier this year, German regional bank Landesbank Baden-Württemberg, asset manager DekaBank and Commerzbank ceased trading in foodstuffs following pressure from the NGO Foodwatch, which argues that their trading had contributed to world hunger. Foodwatch’s campaigning also induced Deutsche Bank to stop offering exchange-traded products linked to basic foodstuffs.

Investors in Darty, the wholly owned subsidiary of UK-based KESA Electricals, owner of Comet, have voted against the firm’s pay policies in a row over a “golden hello” handed to chief executive Thierry Falque-Pierrotin three years ago. Prior to the company’s AGM in London last week, Darty announced that Falque-Pierrotin was stepping down, by mutual agreement, once a business review by the new chairman is completed at the tend of the year. About 58% of shareholders voted against the company’s remuneration report, making it the seventh pay report thrown out by investors this year after the shares fell 60% in the past year.Thirty-six percent of US shareholder proposals this year were sponsored by union-affiliated and public pension funds, while 22% were lodged by SRI groups, faith and public policy-focused, according to a report titled: “Proxy Monitor 2012: A Report on Corporate Governance and Shareholder Activism” by the Manhattan Institute. The report said just 1% of shareholder resolutions were sponsored by mainstream institutional investors:

The Philippines has adopted the ASEAN Corporate Governance Scorecard, which is funded by the Asian Development Bank. It joins Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam in the programme, part of the ASEAN Corporate Governance Initiative of the ASEAN Capital Markets Forum. The scorecard measures countries on issues such as rights of shareholders, equitable treatment of shareholders, role of stakeholders, disclosure and transparency, and responsibilities of the board of directors.

The Securities Investors Association in Singapore is partnering with Singapore Management University (SMU) and Brendan Wood International to develop a new corporate governance scorecard for Singapore-listed companies. The best companies will be put forward for the annual SIAS Singapore Corporate Governance Award and the new scorecard will include input from investors.
The criteria include assessments on corporate strategy, board, CEO leadership and reporting & disclosure. The Brendan Wood International panel comprises of 2000 major institutional shareholders, investment analysts and market intermediaries.

The IFC is investing $20m in Nereus India Alternative Energy Fund, a dedicated Indian renewable energy fund to promote the development and use of clean and renewable energy technologies.
Jonathan Winer, Founder and Managing Director of Nereus Capital, which is managing the fund, said: “Nereus is trying to back companies with scalable business models in clean energy that address the challenges of huge deficit and high electricity costs in the Indian power market.” Clean energy is a global strategic priority for IFC, which has led several innovative renewable energy investments in South Asia in recent years.