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Jan 24, 2020

The week in investor relations: Climate change, sustainable funds and ‘diverse’ IPOs

This week’s other IR-related stories that we didn’t cover on

– Questions are being asked over the voting record of Australian asset managers on climate change issues, reported the Financial Times (paywall). Data provided to the FT by Proxy Insight showed that some major investors had not supported any climate change resolutions during the 2018-2019 proxy season. The deadly wildfires during Australia’s 2019-2020 summer have raised the profile of climate change in the country.

– The FT also reported huge flows of money into US sustainable investment funds. Quoting data from Morningstar, the newspaper said investors put $20.6 bn into such funds during 2019, around four times more than in 2018. The inflows were driven by investor concern over the potential impact of climate change on the global economy, noted the FT

– Goldman Sachs will help companies go public only if they have at least one ‘diverse’ board member, reported CNBC. Speaking to the news channel, Goldman CEO David Solomon said: ‘Starting on July 1 in the US and Europe, we’re not going to take a company public unless there’s at least one diverse board candidate, with a focus on women.’ The requirement will later rise to two diverse board members, he added.

– More companies will consider alternative routes to going public in 2020, such as direct listings and special purpose acquisition corporations (Spacs), according to CNN Business. Virgin Galactic’s recent listing via a Spac – where a private company merges with an existing public company – shows they are becoming a credible option, reported the article.

– Investors demonstrated continued dissent over executive pay at FTSE 350 companies during 2019, noted Pensions & Investments. A review by the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association recorded 148 resolutions with more than 20 percent dissent during the year, covering 81 different companies. Those are very similar figures to 2018 when there were 148 resolutions targeting 82 companies. 

– Yoshiaki Murakami, Japan’s best known activist investor, has launched a hostile bid for Toshiba Machine, reported Reuters. The company responded by saying it could adopt a poison pill strategy to prevent the takeover. Shareholder activism is growing in Japan following attempts by the government to improve corporate governance practices.