The week in investor relations: Exec pay, Chinese investments and a $2 tn company

Aug 21, 2020
This week’s other IR-related stories that we didn’t cover on IRmagazine.com

- The S&P 500 hit a record high this week, reported ABC, despite ongoing concerns about the impact of the coronavirus on the economy. Tech-heavy Nasdaq also saw a new high, though gains weren’t necessarily replicated elsewhere: in London the FTSE 100 remains around 20 percent lower than its January high.

- Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, held onto his position as the highest-paid CEO in asset management, taking home combined pay and bonuses of $25.3 mn last year, according to the Financial Times (paywall). Elsewhere in executive pay, Deloitte reports that CEO pay fell 7 percent in Britain’s 30 largest companies last year, while FTSE 100 finance directors averaged a 12 percent cut – though remuneration remains high.

- Also in the FT, it is reported that big fund groups including CalPERS and Schroders are calling for mandatory inclusion of climate risks in accounts and asking companies to follow the example of BP. The oil and gas giant recently announced an ambitious strategy to turn BP into a net-zero carbon emitter by 2050, including a pledge to almost halve oil and gas production by 2030.

- According to Nasdaq president and CEO Adena Friedman, the best way to make CEOs focus on inequality in the workforce is for shareholders to demand it, CNBC reported. Friedman said investors hold an ‘enormous amount of influence’ when it comes to how companies can approach issues such as social injustice and economic inequality. ‘If I were to say what’s the number one way to make sure that I focus in the long term on how to continue to make a positive difference for our community, our employees and the communities around us, [I would say it’s] having investors ask me about it every quarter,’ she said.

- Airbnb has confidentially filed paperwork with the SEC for an IPO, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall). The paper notes that the home-sharing firm’s plans are a surprise after initially being hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and global travel restrictions.

- Apple became the first US company to be valued at $2 tn, writes the BBC, after shares hit $467.77 in mid-morning trading on Wednesday. The tech giant reached the milestone two years after becoming the first trillion-dollar company in 2018. It recently reported that the firm is planning a four-for-one stock split later this month. This would bring the share price down to around $117 and follows an announcement from Tesla that it is also planning a stock split – the first in the company’s history.

- Taiwan unveiled new rules designed to tighten screening around Chinese investments, reports Nikkei Asian Review. The island has joined forces with Washington to scrutinize the influence of Chinese investment in sensitive technologies. ‘The US, Japan and many European countries are stepping up their examinations of foreign investments,’ Su Chi-yen, spokesperson for Taiwan's Investment Commission, told the Nikkei Asian Review. ‘We are taking the same approach.’

- UBS has leapfrogged Amundi to become the European manager of choice for retail assets, according to the FT. The Swiss manager increased its assets in retail and exchange traded funds to €308 bn in the first half of 2020, reports the paper using data from Morningstar. This comes as investors withdrew a net €8.9 bn from Amundi, which had previously held the title.

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