The week in investor relations: Climate activists, church investments and trading halts
– Christopher Hohn, the activist investor who runs the Children’s Investment Fund, is pressuring companies to take action on climate change, reported Bloomberg. Hohn wants companies to cut greenhouse gas emissions and report on their climate footprint. Those that do not respond could see shares sold or votes against directors. Hohn has also donated to the protest group Extinction Rebellion.
– The Financial Times (paywall) noted that the Church of England Pensions Board is launching a new passive investment index focused on companies helping in the fight against climate change. Developed in partnership with FTSE Russell, the church’s investment fund will invest £600 mn ($787 mn) in the FTSE TPI Climate Transition Index, which is aligned with the Paris Agreement’s goals on climate change.
– China has implemented an extended trading halt on its exchanges in Shanghai and Shenzhen following the outbreak of the coronavirus infection, reported the South China Morning Post. The exchanges, which shut on January 23 for the Lunar New Year, will remain closed until February 3. The outbreak also led the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong to cancel an event celebrating the New Year.
– Royal Dutch Shell has said it will slow its share buyback program, the world’s largest at $25 bn, amid lower oil and gas prices, reported Reuters. Since mid-2018, the company has bought back $2.75 bn every quarter, but in the first three months of 2020 it is only expected to purchase $1 bn. Shell’s CEO Ben van Beurden says the company wants to complete the buyback program but ‘all economic indicators are working against us’.
– The Bank of England (BoE) has held a meeting of its monetary policy committee, where it voted by 7-2 to leave interest rates on hold, reported the Guardian. The BoE said it expected UK growth to recover in the first quarter of 2019. Business confidence has risen following December’s general election, when the Conservative Party won a large majority, guaranteeing that Brexit will happen today.