The week in investor relations: Pushing back against activists and bringing back dividends
– Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield’s CEO, Christophe Cuvillier, expressed confidence ‘that shareholders will back plans for a controversial capital increase’, according to the Financial Times (paywall). Activists are pushing instead for an asset sale to address the company’s high debt levels.
– Royal Dutch Shell brought back its progressive dividend in a bid to win over investors, reported the Wall Street Journal (paywall). The company cut its dividend by two thirds in April in the face of the spread of Covid-19 and a collapsing oil price. Shell also faces the challenge of adapting to its goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
– Christopher Hohn, the hedge fund manager, accused the world’s largest investment firms of not taking strong-enough action against companies over climate change, noted the FT. In a letter to seven major asset managers, Hohn said they should file their own shareholder resolutions on climate issues, rather than rely on other investors to do so.
– Global stock markets saw significant falls this week as investors fretted over growing Covid-19 cases, noted the BBC. The sell-off was particularly noticeable in Europe and the US. While there was a broad sell-off, energy and travel stocks suffered in particular, while tech stocks also fell amid US Senate hearings over how online content is moderated.
– Ant Group’s IPO, which is set to be the world’s biggest, attracted a record $3 tn in retail demand, according to Reuters. The Chinese financial services company is set to raise around $34.4 bn in a dual IPO across China’s STAR Market and Hong Kong’s stock exchange.
– Robeco Institutional Asset Management, the Dutch asset manager, placed a further 232 companies on its exclusion list for their fossil-fuel activities, reported Bloomberg. Last month, the firm said its mutual funds will avoid companies that earn a certain percentage of revenues from thermal coal, oil sands or Arctic drilling.