Investors urge stakeholders on palm oil policies

first_imgLucia von Reusner, shareholder advocate for Green Century Capital Management, said: “Fuelling deforestation is bad business for any company seeking to position itself as a responsible, sophisticated global player. As consumers become increasingly concerned about palm oil’s role in driving deforestation and climate change, the industry will continue to face escalating pressure to provide truly sustainable palm oil that does not destroy forests, displace endangered species and speed global warming.”Rob Berridge, director of shareholder engagement at Ceres, a non-profit organisation mobilising business leadership on climate change, added: “The palm oil industry is at a crossroads. The investors we work with are asking the industry to eschew forced labour, habitat destruction and accelerating greenhouse gas emissions in favour of developing and operating palm plantations responsibly. The more damaging path is not sustainable and puts shareholder value at risk. In the internet age, there is no place to hide these practices, and experts agree that sustainable palm oil production is highly feasible. In fact, supply of certified sustainable palm oil currently exceeds demand by about 50%.”The request comes just weeks after the palm oil industry faced renewed public scrutiny over continued illegal deforestation in national parks, and rampant human rights violations including child and forced labour.Wilmar, as the world’s largest palm oil trader, has faced criticism from vocal forest protection groups for failing to uphold commitments to sustainable palm oil development.Many companies have pledged to only purchase or finance palm oil that had been certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).In recent months, however, the RSPO and companies that claim to support only RSPO certified palm oil development have come under fire for failing to enforce supplier compliance and prevent deforestation.Consequently, the industry is facing pressure to go beyond RSPO certification by adopting policies to only purchase, finance and grow palm oil that is verified as not contributing to deforestation, development on peat or exploitation of peoples and communities.Approximately 85% of palm oil is grown in Indonesia and Malaysia, and is a leading driver of deforestation and biodiversity loss in those nations.Due to high levels of deforestation and conversion of carbon-rich peatlands, Indonesia was ranked by the World Bank as the third largest greenhouse gas emitter globally.The palm oil industry is also listed as one of the most notorious for using child and forced labour, according to a recent US Department of Labor report.Companies receiving the letter include Wilmar International, PT Musim Mas, Golden Agri Resources, Sime Darby, Felda Global Venture, Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd, Cargill, Asian Agri, Agropalma, Daabon, New Britain Palm Oil, HSBC, Barclays, JP Morgan Chase, UBS, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse Group, Standard Chartered, Rabobank, Deutsche Bank and 20 major snack food companies currently being targeted by environmental groups over their palm oil policies such as Dunkin Donuts, General Mills, Grupo Bimbo, Hillshire Brands, HJ Heinz, Hormel Foods, Kellogg Company, Kraft Foods, Krispy Kreme, Mars, Mondelez International, Nestle, Nissin Foods, PepsiCo, The Hershey Company, JM Smucker Company and Toyo Suisan Kaisha.The letter and some of the signatories can be found here. A coalition of institutional investors is urging major stakeholders in the palm oil industry to adopt policies that will ensure palm oil development does not contribute to deforestation, development on peatlands or human rights violations.The investor coalition sent letters to 40 major palm oil producers, financiers and consumers including Wilmar, Golden Agri Resources, Unilever and HSBC.The letters, coordinated by Green Century Capital Management and signed by more than 40 institutional investors from the US and Europe representing approximately $270bn (€199bn) in assets under management, call for the development of transparent, traceable, deforestation-free palm oil supply chains.Current palm oil production practices have significant impacts on communities and the environment, making palm oil companies controversial business partners.last_img read more

German SMEs shifting towards collective pension schemes – study

first_imgSector-wide pension plans, or those based on collective agreements, are slowly breaking insurers’ stronghold in pensions among Germany’s medium-sized enterprises.In 2014, the number of companies in this segment having entered cooperation agreements with such collective schemes to provide occupational pensions increased from 21% in 2013 to 23%.However, the trend becomes more obvious when considering that the number in 2012 was 7%, according to a survey conducted by Generali and the research institute of German news daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.The survey was conducted in November last year among 200 companies with 50-500 employees – after the government published the first draft of its proposal on introducing sector-wide pension plans. The share of those with cooperation agreements with insurers has dropped from 78% in 2013-12 to 70%.In their report on the survey, the authors state that only one of the 200 companies in the sample ran its pension plans on its own – “all others are using external services”.Another major trend identified in the survey is the rise of jointly financed pension plans, where both employers and employees pay contributions.In 2013, this model became the most commonly used among medium-sized companies, overtaking pure employee-financed deferred-compensation models, or Entgeltumwandlung, for the first time.At present, 67% of companies in this segment – up from 59% – are offering jointly financed pension plans.Occupational retirement provisions into which only the employer pays contributions have lost further ground and can only be found among 18% of German companies, down from 24% and 32% over the two years previous.The authors argue that the “heightened interest” in occupational pensions among employees of medium-sized companies is “obviously a consequence of employers taking more money into their hands” for such projects.One of the “weak spots” in occupational pensions in this segment of the German economy is “communication”, the researchers found.The survey found that relatively few employers comprehensively inform their employees about their pension plans and possible options.last_img read more

Asset management roundup: Oddo & Cie, Kleinwort Benson, Fosun, Robeco, Lyxor, Och-Ziff

first_imgThe counter-bid follows the announcement on 24 July by Eastgate Billion (Luxembourg), a wholly owned unit of Bosun International, to make a takeover bid at €5.10 per share.The takeover target said its board would make a formal response to the counter-bid once the final prospectus was available.Oddo & Cie said it intended to expand in the euro-zone, and had decided not to keep its private banking activities in the UK and Channel Islands.In other news, Rotterdam-based Robeco is opening its London office today in a move it described as the next stage of its work with clients in the UK.Hester Borrie, head of global distribution and marketing and Robeco group management board member, said: “Building on our track record with clients in the UK, we are ready to be going to the next stage.”Borrie said London was a key hub for the institutional and wholesale investment business globally.Robeco has already announced the appointment of Mark Barry as head of UK and institutional business for Robeco UK.The company said its Global Financial Institutions team, led by Nick Shaw, and Global Consultant Relations team, headed by Peter Walsh, would also be run out of the London office. These teams are now supported by six full-time staff, and this number is set to rise to 20 within the next two years.Robeco said it now had around £5bn (€7bn) in assets under management from UK client mandates, as of the end of September 2015.Lastly, Lyxor Asset Management and Och-Ziff Capital Management are launching an investment fund on Lyxor’s Alternative UCITS Platform.The fund – the Lyxor/OZ US Equity Opportunities Fund – will concentrate on long and short investment opportunities in the US equity market, aiming for positive, absolute returns with low volatility.The investment strategy will combine long-term fundamental views with “process-oriented expertise in corporate actions/events”, Lyxor said.The fund will aim to take advantage of mispricings in situations involving various types of corporate actions, including mergers, spin-offs, management changes and recapitalisations.Lyxor said it was continuing to diversify its UCITS platform and that Och-Ziff would now be the eighth alternative manager on it. French asset manager Oddo & Cie has launched a rival offer worth €760m for fund manager BHF Kleinwort Benson, beating the offer made in July by China’s Fosun International.BHF Kleinwort Benson said it welcomed the higher bid by the French firm, which already holds 21.6% of the Brussels-listed company.Oddo & Cie said it intended to launch a voluntary and conditional public takeover offer in cash, for all the shares it does not already hold, offering a price of €5.75 per share.BHF Kleinwort Benson said it had already agreed sales with certain shareholders, giving it the certainty of holding more than 50% of the company’s shares.last_img read more

UK roundup: NEST, scheme rules, PPF, insolvency guidelines

first_img“For both these reasons,” the scheme’s consultation said, “we’re considering offering members below scheme retirement age and in receipt of ongoing employer contributions the option of leaving their account open when they take a 100 per cent cash lump sum.”Other changes would allow the scheme trustee to authorise both bulk and individual transfers into and out of the scheme, and to abandon the annual contribution limit that has seen members earnings above the threshold saved into an additional contract-based scheme.The consultation runs until 21 March.In other news, the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) has revised its advice to restructuring and insolvency professionals to ensure the timely assessment of pension funds hoping to enter the lifeboat scheme.The guides detail examples of when a sponsor may be able to sever its link with a defined benefit (DB) fund, and the information the industry must supply in case of an insolvency event being triggered.Malcolm Weir, head of structuring and insolvency at the PPF, noted that the fund’s goal was to ensure the right payments were made at the right time.“Progressing the assessment process as efficiently as possible is vital, and insolvency practitioners play a very important role in this,” he added.He pledged that the PPF would be issuing further, more detailed guidance, over the course of 2016. The National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) is to amend its scheme rules, allowing members to withdraw from their pots while still contributing.The DC fund, set up to act as a scheme of last resort as the UK introduces auto-enrolment, has proposed a number of changes in light of the pensions freedoms, which allow members over 55 to access their savings.Other tweaks being proposed will prepare for the lifting of contribution limits and allow for bulk transfers into NEST from April 2017, when restrictions imposed upon its launch are lifted.NEST said that under current scheme rules, attempts by a member to withdraw cash would trigger the closure of member pots even if the member were still eligible for auto-enrolment contributions. The closure would contrary to the aim of the pensions freedoms introduced last year by chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne to allow members access to their savings as required.last_img read more

£42bn LGPS asset pool readies double global equity launch

first_imgA spokeswoman for Essex said the transfers were set to take place “within the next six weeks”.The scheme’s most recent annual report showed Essex had £471.4m invested in M&G’s Global Dividend fund at the end of March 2018, and £502.8m with Longview, although the latter had subsequently been reduced as part of a rebalancing of the portfolio. The exact amounts to be transferred would be confirmed shortly before the move, the spokeswoman said.In addition, Longview had a £236m mandate with the East Sussex Pension Fund as of 31 March, while M&G ran £315m for the Kent Pension Fund in its global dividend strategy.A spokeswoman for East Sussex told IPE its pension committee had agreed to transfer the Longview mandate to ACCESS. A spokesman for Kent said its M&G mandate would transfer to ACCESS in February.The new ACCESS sub-funds follow the launch late last year of a £1.6bn “long term global growth” investment fund, run by Baillie Gifford. Essex also supported this launch, transferring more than £600m.The ACCESS pool aims to combine the assets of the LGPS funds for Essex, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hertfordshire, Hampshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Northamptonshire and the Isle of Wight.The pool is hosted by Link Fund Solutions, which provides the infrastructure, while Russell Investments is in charge of manager selection. A £42bn (€46.7bn) consortium of UK local authority pension funds has appointed M&G and Longview to run global equities mandates, IPE has learned.The managers were appointed by ACCESS, one of eight asset pools set up to pool the assets of UK Local Government Pension Schemes (LGPS).M&G is to manage a global dividend fund, while Longview will run a global equities portfolio, with the LGPS funds for Essex, Kent and East Sussex county councils all set to transfer existing mandates in the coming weeks.The Essex Pension Fund has agreed to transfer nearly £1bn of its assets to the two mandates, according to council documents. Both Longview and M&G were responsible for roughly 7% of Essex’s total £6.5bn investment portfolio each, the documents showed.last_img read more

€1.3bn Dutch shipping scheme to overhaul board structure

first_imgThe €1.3bn Dutch Nedlloyd Pensioenfonds (NPF) plans to replace its current board based on equal representation with a ‘one tier’ model with full-time staff.According to Frans Dooren, the scheme’s director, the pension fund wants to boost its governing power by incorporating the professional expertise of full-time executive members into the independently chaired board.Under the proposal, Dooren and Randy Caenen, the new head of finance, control and risk management, would become the executive part of the board, with current board members to become the non-executive component.However, supervisor De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) has yet to approve the change or the proposed board members. The new board model follows Nedlloyd’s decision to end its advanced individual defined contribution (DC) plan – introduced in 2015 – which allowed its participants to place their individually accrued pension rights into a collective DC pot at any moment.The DC plan had just 500 active members, which Dooren said was too low for an acceptable cost level, adding that a significant increase in numbers was unlikely.Other Dutch subsidiaries of Nedlloyd’s parent company, shipping giant Maersk, had placed their pension arrangements elsewhere, meaning NPF missed out on roughly 2,000 additional members for its DC plan, Dooren said.The pension fund has said that the assets – run by Robeco – could be collectively transferred to a new provider or, alternatively, could be used to purchase pension rights at NPF.NPF said that it intended to continue as a closed scheme for its 3,000 deferred members and 7,000 pensioners as of 1 January 2020.Dooren said this would be an “excellent” option if combined with NPF’s current management arrangements.“With a funding of 125%, we are in good shape,” he said. “This year, for example, we have granted full inflation compensation of 1.9%.”He also indicated that NPF was assessing whether administrator RiskCo – which took over from previous provider Aon Hewitt – was the right partner for NPF.“Although we don’t want to switch providers per se, the change poses an opportunity for checking the alternatives,” he explained. Aon had been NPF’s provider since 2014.Dooren also said NPF was in talks with the €1.1bn Pensioenstichting Transport regarding options for co-operation between the two schemes.Reaching an agreement had turned out to be trickier than expected, Dooren explained, because of specific differences between the pension funds.In 2017, NPF revealed that it was in discussions with six schemes for co-operation on areas such as investment, board support and actuarial and legal matters.last_img read more

Three quarters of German investors ‘consider sustainability criteria’

first_imgMore than half (57%) of those taking into account sustainability criteria stated being satisfied or extremely satisfied with doing so.Of those that stated they did not consider sustainability criteria, 57% cited the absence of specific requirements as the main reason, according to Union.The manager noted that only one third of the surveyed investors indicated being aware of the European Commission’s sustainable finance action plan.An investor’s company values was mentioned by 83% of those surveyed as being an important or very important motivation for considering sustainable investment criteria.Union also highlighted that, although two-thirds of respondents were “convinced” that sustainable investments could have a decisive impact on the global climate, only a minority (39%) had information about the climate impact of their own portfolio.Union also asked investors about their views of how a low-carbon transition could impact employment, with 55% indicating they did not expect Germany’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050 to threaten jobs.The surveyed investors had around €6.5trn of assets under management between them. Respondent groups included insurance providers (18%), large companies (12%), pension providers/pension funds (13%), charitable foundations/church organisations (18%), credit institutions (21%), and investment management companies (18%). The share of German institutional investors taking into account sustainability criteria in their investment decisions has reached an 11-year high, according to a survey by Union Investment.Nearly three quarters (72%) of 201 surveyed institutional investors indicated doing so, a year-on-year increase of seven percentage points and the highest level since the survey was first conducted in 2009.Investment management companies were most likely to state that they factored sustainability criteria into their investment decisions (92%), followed by churches and charitable foundations (86%).last_img read more

Luxembourg regulator highlights hard Brexit implications for UK firms

first_imgCSSF headquartersUK fund managers wanting to take advantage of this arrangement would need to notify CSSF “of their intention and way forward” to continue to provide services in Luxembourg after the occurrence of a hard Brexit, the regulator announced yesterday.The notifications would need to be lodged by 15 September via an online portal, which is due to be opened in the coming weeks. The asset managers would then need to submit, by 31 October, “the corresponding application for authorisation, or, as the case may be, the corresponding notification or information on any action taken otherwise, depending on the nature of the activities they intend to pursue after the occurrence of a hard Brexit and/or the steps undertaken to address the loss of passporting rights”.Both the “Brexit notification” and subsequent application or notification would need to be submitted in order for a UK asset manager to be eligible for the transition regime.According to consultancy EY, financial services firms paused or slowed down their Brexit planning between March and May once EU leaders in April agreed to extend the deadline for the UK’s exit to the end of October. Boris Johnson, the Conservative Party politician who looks likely to become the next UK prime minister, has pledged to take the UK out of the union on 31 October regardless of whether or not a withdrawal agreement has been finalised.The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has signed memoranda of understanding with a number of other regulators in an effort to reduce the impact of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. It agreed terms with the 27 remaining EU national regulators in February, and has signed similar deals with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the US’ Securities and Exchange Commission.The FCA has also signed an agreement with Dutch regulator the Financial Markets Authority to increase their co-operation regardless of the Brexit outcome. The Luxembourg regulator also confirmed it would be offering a transitional regime, which it has set at 12 months. Luxembourg’s financial regulator has called for UK asset managers to notify it as soon as possible if they want to be able to conclude new contracts in the country following a potential “hard Brexit”.In a press release, CSSF reiterated that, if the UK exits the EU without ratifying a withdrawal agreement, it would become a “third country” in relation to providing services to EU entities. CSSF emphasised that providing regulated services in Luxembourg without proper authorisation was illegal and therefore subject to sanctions.UK asset managers and other financial services firms that wanted to continue their business and conclude new contracts in Luxembourg following an abrupt UK departure from the EU should apply for authorisation with the regulator as soon as possible, it said.Authorisation could take up to 12 months to be granted, CSSF said, so any asset managers without such permissions would have to cease all business as of the date of a hard Brexit. The UK is currently scheduled to leave the EU on 31 October 2019.last_img read more

No UK input to IORP stress test as EIOPA flags ‘insufficient coverage’

first_imgAccording to the minutes, EIOPA is to address the matter in “a formal response”.A spokesman for the UK’s pensions regulator (TPR) told IPE it had written to pension schemes in May to alert them to the stress test exercise and provide them with details on how to take part.“However, no UK schemes chose to participate in the stress test and as a result no UK data has been submitted,” the TPR spokesman said.James Walsh, head of membership engagement and lead on EU issues at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association, said this made sense given it has been the government’s policy to take the UK out of the EU.“TPR took a light touch approach previously by doing the UK return itself rather than asking pension schemes to do so, and two years on TPR would have been anticipating we’d have left,” he said.According to a source, stress test input from at least one other country has been limited.EIOPA’s founding regulation requires it to perform stress tests of occupational pension funds – IORPs  (Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision) – and insurers on a regular basis. The 2019 IORP stress test is supposed to cover 20 countries in the European Economic Area with “material” IORP assets, defined as more than €500m by the end of 2018.For the first time the IORP stress test this year included a component explicitly to do with environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) risks.EIOPA has previously said it expected to publish the report on the outcomes of the stress test by the middle of December. No UK data has been provided to EIOPA for the purpose of its 2019 stress test of European pension funds, IPE has learned.EIOPA – the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority – has been carrying out the stress tests every two years. The national supervisory authorities are responsible for co-ordinating the exercise in their member states.According to EIOPA, pension funds had until the middle of June to complete the exercise and submit the results to their national supervisors, who in turn had until the end of August to submit material to EIOPA.However, according to minutes from the latest meeting of EIOPA’s board of supervisors, there has been “insufficient coverage and shortcomings in the national application” in relation to the 2019 stress test. EIOPA did not respond to a request for clarification from IPE.last_img read more

Unit owners clean up after selling entire building

first_imgEach flat was about 71 sqm except for one which was 89 sqm. “There’s a good number of investors, 50-plus age group, looking for somewhere to sink their money.”CoreLogic records showed all the owners were interstate investors who had previously been happy to set their units in the rental market and see it tick along comfortably. 26 Toorak Road, Hamilton, Qld 4007A GROUP of owners made a tidy profit after just five days on the market after banding together to sell their entire building.The unit owners at 26 Toorak Road in Brisbane blue chip suburb, Hamilton, pooled their resources to sell their complex as an eight bedroom, four bathroom, four car space property.The four apartments — each with two bedrooms, one bath, and one car space — attracted “massive interest” with the building selling for $1.98 million on August 10 after just five days on the market, according to agents Ranal Charan and Dr Paul Howe of Oxbridge. QLD richlister’s $20m renovation How Brisbane is beating southern capitals Brisbane’s cheapest rental suburbs The property was tidy and well maintained.Four years ago the units had been fetching about $390 a week in rent each, though that figure dropped this year to about $330 a week per unit.The property has views of the city skyline and is surrounded by some of the most expensive homes in Brisbane. FOLLOW SOPHIE FOSTER ON FACEBOOK Many of the properties art deco details have been lovingly maintained.More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus17 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market17 hours ago“It’s a rare gem on one of the best streets and houses very seldom come on the market there.“Art deco properties have had a resurgence at the moment. They’ve always had good bones. If you buy one of those, renovated or not, you’ve always got good options.”All the units were about 71 sqm, except for one which had an extra 18 sqm. The firm was still getting calls from people interested in properties like it, he said. In recent times, rental rates have dropped.The unit market has seen some significant adjustment in recent times in terms of pricing given the massive boost in supply in the new unit market in the city. 26 Toorak Road, Hamilton, is a block of four flats surrounded by luxury homes.All the units had been bought for between $386,500 and $374,500 six years ago, bringing gross profit in at about 28 per cent per apartment.“Someone came to us and said they wanted to sell their property, as in just their unit. We gave them a price but said maybe approach the other three,” Mr Charan said.“The other three came up with a benchmark, we took it to market and sold it in five days.”Interest in such properties was strong, he said. Video Player is loading.Play VideoPlayNext playlist itemMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 9:24Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -9:24 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedQuality Levels720p720pHD288p288pAutoA, selectedAudio Tracken (Main), selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.This is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.Close Modal DialogThis is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.PlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:00Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:00 Playback Rate1xFullscreenCoreLogic Brisbane Housing Market Update – August 201809:25last_img read more