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Jun 30, 2023

The week in IR: Larry Fink ditches ESG acronym, Saudi Aramco eyes Chinese market and Shein registers for US IPO

Our pick of stories from around the web that you might have missed this week

– According to Reuters (paywall), BlackRock boss Larry Fink, at the forefront of the business world’s adoption of ESG standards, has stopped using the term, saying it has become too politicized. But the world’s largest asset manager hasn’t changed its stance on ESG issues, Fink told the Aspen Ideas Festival last week. ESG, a catch-all term that encompasses a range of ethically responsible business practices from curbing carbon emissions to cracking down on discrimination in the workplace, has become politically polarizing in parts of the western world, especially in the US.

– Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil giant Aramco is bullish on oil markets for the rest of 2023 as demand from major importers China and India is expected to be strong despite an expected global downturn, CNBC reported. ‘We believe oil market fundamentals remain generally sound for the rest of the year,’ said CEO Amin Nasser at the Energy Asia conference in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. His optimism came even as China, the world’s largest oil importer, showed signs of stalling growth, prompting several cuts in the country’s key lending rates. ‘Despite the recession risks in several OECD countries, the economies of developing countries, especially China and India, are driving oil demand growth of more than 2 mn barrels per day this year,’ said Nasser.

Reuters reported that Shein, the Chinese online fashion retailer worth more than $60 bn, which is under scrutiny from US lawmakers over its labor practices, registered with regulators for an IPO in New York, people familiar with the matter said. The stock market debut could make Shein the most valuable Chinese company to go public in the US since ride-hailing giant DiDi Global listed in New York in 2021 valued at $68 bn. DiDi was delisted from New York a year later amid Beijing’s crackdown on Chinese technology giants over antitrust and data security rules.

–  Meanwhile, the world’s biggest producer of luxury goods emerged as a favorite among fund managers marketing themselves as promoters of environmental and social goals, Bloomberg (paywall) reported. More than 1,200 ESG funds now hold shares of LVMH, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Roughly 500 more are indirectly exposed to the luxury behemoth, the data shows. That puts LVMH well ahead of more traditional green names such as Vestas Wind Systems and Tesla on the list of preferred ESG stocks.

– In crypto news, Coindesk reported that US crypto exchange Coinbase claimed that digital assets listed on its platform fall outside the SEC’s purview, in its first legal response to the regulator’s lawsuit. The SEC sued Coinbase at the beginning of June, alleging that a dozen of the cryptocurrencies offered through its wallet or trading platforms were unregistered securities. In its answer, filed earlier this week, Coinbase claimed these cryptos are not investment contracts and therefore are not securities.

– According to Cointelegraph, Blockchain Australia’s new CEO, Simon Callaghan, is urging Australia’s banks, the government and the crypto industry to come together to combat rising cryptocurrency scams. Speaking on the final day of Australian Blockchain Week in Melbourne on June 30, Callaghan announced that the association will now be focused on helping prevent scams that involve crypto, among its other efforts. ‘We’re going to have to work with the banking sector. We’re going to have to work with the government,’ he said, stressing the need to protect consumers.

Staff Writers

The staff writers on IR magazine are from our team of highly experienced journalists.