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Feb 09, 2016

Michael Bloomberg: improved disclosure could generate positive competition

Potential presidential candidate says he refuses to invest in coal, guns or tobacco 

Michael Bloomberg, the founder of the Bloomberg media empire and a potential independent candidate in the 2016 US presidential elections, has called on companies to improve disclosure on issues surrounding climate change, saying it would create positive competition among corporations to lighten their environmental footprint.

Bloomberg, who also heads the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), made the comments in an interview with the Financial Times just after the TCFD’s first meeting.

‘One of the things you find today when you interview prospective employees who have choices is that they want to know what you are doing about the environment,’ Bloomberg says in the interview. ‘It’s a competitive advantage in recruiting when you can say, This is what our company is doing to save the planet.’

Bloomberg also says in the interview that he personally refuses to invest in coal, tobacco or gun stocks. He further says institutional investors are increasingly concerned about the environmental record of the companies they invest in, particularly because the issue is of concern to their clients.

‘Big institutional investors care about the companies they are investing in, in terms of how acceptable that company is to the people they work for,’ Bloomberg says. He is the latest among a series of high-profile figures to call for increased disclosure and a greater focus on long-term planning.

The newspaper reported earlier this month that JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, Berkshire Hathaway chief Warren Buffet and other major investors have met in secret in recent months to discuss ways to improve governance of public companies and encourage longer-term investing.

The TCFD is to submit two reports, including one next month to focus on current levels of disclosure and another by the end of the year to create a list of best practices for companies to use in disclosure policies.