ESG and Sustainability
The rise of ESG factors in investment decision making will have a dramatic impact on returns and opportunities in the 21st century. A recent survey by LGT Capital Partners and Mercer showed that 57% of respondents believe that incorporating ESG standards into investment decisions will raise returns. Just 9% argued they reduce returns on investment.
JBS S.A. (BVMF: JBSS3), the largest meatpacker in the world, has committed to maintaining a vigil against deforestation throughout its supply chain. The Brazilian company has been under pressure from investors and environmentalists because its beef production is leading to deforestation in the Amazon. Cattle owners have been known to clear forests to make way for pasture land.
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More Stories on ESG and Sustainability
BlackRock ESG ETFs have emerged as a popular draw among institutional investors. This week, the alternative investment manager announced a $600 million investment from Finland’s largest pension insurance firm. Ilmarinen invested the capital in the iShares ESG MSCI EM Leaders ETF (NASDAQ: LDEM). This was the firms’ second investment in iShares ESG strategies.
Credit Suisse announced the addition of three new, “ultra-efficient” ETFs to its range of funds. These funds will supplement the existing Credit Suisse index Funds.
Credit Suisse Asset Management had an AUM of CHF 132 billion as of end-December 2019. It has a core business of index funds and has been replicating indices for a wide array of asset classes, regions and currencies since 1994. Currently, it has a range of more than 90 index funds on offer. It has extended this capability to ESG sustainability indices.
Two of the new funds have a focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) aspects.
Curtis Sneden, president of the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce is concerned about repercussions from activist hedge fund Elliott Management’s broadside against regional utility Evergy, Inc. (NYSE: EVRG). Feared activist hedge fund Elliott wrote to Evergy on January 21 requesting changes that would create value for shareholders. New York-based Elliott is owned by billionaire Paul Singer.
It owned an “economic interest” in Evergy worth $760 million as of the date of the letter.
Van Eck will soon launch the VanEck Vectors Sustainable Muni ETF.
The fund manager will meet investors’ growing preference for sustainable investing by offering it inside of a fixed income vehicle. It filed with the SEC for its plans to launch the VanEck Vectors Sustainable Muni ETF
Institutional investors are pushing hedge funds to adopt ESG in their investment decisions. These investors see ESG investing as a way to serve their own long-term interests and wider society. This is the key takeaway of a new report: Sustainable Investing: Fast-Forwarding its Evolution.
Trillium Asset Management CIO John Quealy says that his firm is selling itself to Perpetual. Trillium is a Boston-based ESG equity and fixed-income manager that launched in 1982. Perpetual has been around since 1886 and is one of the oldest financial firms in Australia.
Over the next five years, Melinda Gates’ Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company, will invest $50 million to create more opportunities in the tech sector for women.
Last year, Gates published “The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World.”
Last year, Gates had pledged an amount of $1 billion towards empowering women over the coming ten years. The current investment of $50 million is a part of that pledge and will cover Chicago and two unnamed cities.
Biodiversity is now in the same league as climate change from an ESG perspective. AXA Investment Managers, BNP Paribas Asset Management, and Sycomore Asset Management want investors to focus on biodiversity preservation.
State Street Global Advisors will vote against companies that lag behind on ESG standards. The company stands as one of the largest shareholders in public companies due to its stance as a global index fund provider. The firm will lean on its “responsibility factor” a system that measures the performance of companies on ESG metrics.
Act Analytics announced the launch of a new Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) portfolio analytics platform. The new platform allows RIAs to compare, contrast, and construct customized ESG portfolios. The new Act Analytics technology combines analytics and more than 200 ESG factors. It allows RIAs to “x-ray” securities, funds and portfolios to assess for ESG levels. They can also construct custom, values-based portfolios for clients.
Miners have accepted that Environmental-Social-Governance (ESG) criteria will measure their commitment to sustainability and the impact of their operations on society.
Going a step further, mining companies have also come to realize that ESG compliance leads to the creation of shareholder value and attendant social benefits such as better working conditions. Further, they recognize that investors, employees and host governments will welcome those miners that have a record of credible ESG performance.
That ESG is causing a sea change in miners’ approach to societal obligations is apparent. But, says EgonZehnder, they should be doing more.
“We’re sounding the alarm bells, “ said MSCI chairman and CEO Henry Fernandez on CNBC’s Squawk on the Street. If you are an investment institution and you’re not embracing this and taking it into account, it’s going to be at your own peril,” said Fernandez. He warned ESG is a “Permanent Change in the Way Capitalism Works.”
It’s the 50th annual World Economic Forum at Davos. Nasdaq President and CEO Adena Friedman wrote in LinkedIn on Monday: “As we look ahead to a new year and a new decade, it’s far from clear that our world can be described right now as either cohesive or sustainable.” However, Friedman is enthused by the progress on ESG during 2019 and the prospects for it in 2020. Therefore, “2020 is increasingly looking like it may be the tipping point year for ESG investing,” said Friedman.
Current Best Buy CEO Corie Barry allegedly had a romantic relationship with a male colleague before taking charge as CEO in June 2019. Best Buy’s board is investigating the charge, made through an anonymous letter dated January 7.
Carbon emissions dominated the headlines this week.
The European Commission has announced an ambitious plan to shift toward a green economy and make the EU carbon-neutral in the year ahead. The plan will cost at least one trillion euros over the next decade, require 25% of the EU budget, and involve a mix of private and public funds. EU chief Ursula von der Leyen called the project unprecedented.
New regulations, products, and money will make 2020 a banner year for ESG in Europe
Sustainable and responsible investing around the themes of Environment-Social-Governance (ESG) will come into its own in 2020 in Europe, says the latest monthly report by Cerulli. And demand impetus may come from retail investors, the report goes on to say.
The Global Alternatives Outlook was released by JPMorgan Asset Management this week. The report provides a 12-18-month outlook across key alternative asset classes. The report also the views of the CEOs, CIOs, and strategists from the firm’s 15 distinct alternatives investment engines. We take a look at the key takeaways from the report.
ValueAct founder Jeffrey Ubben expressed his excitement this week that BlackRock chief Larry Fink had sounded an alarm around climate change. The founder of the $17 billion hedge fund has been one of the biggest supporters of ESG factors in corporate governance.
Larry Fink’s emotionally charged plug for ESG ticks all the investment boxes for Tesla.
According to Cramer, electric car maker Tesla could be a beneficiary of BlackRock’s new-found love for everything ESG.
Change is afoot at BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager. The firm is finally veering around to using its enormous financial and investment clout to push for climate action, according to Reuters.
BlackRock CEO warned in his annual letter to investee CEOs, titled “A fundamental reshaping of finance,” that “climate change has become a defining factor in companies’ long-term prospects,” and that markets have been slow to reflect the growing global concerns on climate change.
There is a mutual cause-and-effect relationship between a firm’s ESG investments and its profitability, says a report by ISS ESG.
ISS ESG is the responsible investing arm of Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS). The ISS study found that those firms which invest in improving their ESG corporate ratings are also more profitable.
Climate Action 100+, an investor network that is pushing for disclosures into carbon emissions, has inked BlackRock to its roster. The three-year-old investor group is pushing for commitments to reduce fossil fuel-related emissions. The world’s largest asset manager joins firms like CalPERS, Allianz, and UBS Asset Management.
The Environmental-Social-Governance (ESG) space commands a lot of investing heft these days. That much is evident from the confidence placed by CVC Growth Partners in EcoVadis, a provider of sustainability ratings for global supply chains. CVC’s investment of approximately $200 million is validation of its view that ESG is extremely important to business success over the long term.