The week in investor relations: ESG resolutions, climate lawsuits and halted IPOs
– Investors backed a record number of shareholder resolutions on social and environmental issues in 2020, reported the Financial Times (paywall). Citing data from Proxy Insight, the newspaper said 21 resolutions have passed globally so far this year, a rise from 13 in both 2019 and 2018. In 2017, the figure was just five.
– Retail Employees Superannuation Trust, a $41 bn Australian pension fund, settled a lawsuit over its approach to climate change and pledged to have a portfolio with net-zero emissions by 2050, noted Bloomberg. The case could be replicated globally as pressure builds on asset owners to tackle global warming, added the article.
– Chinese authorities halted Ant Group’s $34 bn IPO at the last minute, in what is being interpreted as a reminder of ‘who’s really in charge’, reported CNN Business. Media reports noted that two weeks ago Ant Group founder Jack Ma criticized Chinese regulators for stifling innovation in the financial system.
– Investment giant Invesco agreed to expand its board, adding Nelson Peltz, CEO of activist investor Trian Fund Management, and two others, according to Barron’s. Last month, Trian built stakes in both Invesco and rival Janus Henderson with ‘an eye to creating an asset-management giant’, explained the article.
– The US stock market rose this week despite uncertainty over the outcome of the presidential election, reported CNBC. Commentators said investors were focusing on results in the US Senate, where the apparent failure of the Democrats to win control made it less likely there would be tax rises and new regulation.
– UK retailer Marks & Spencer suffered its first loss in 94 years as a public company, reported the BBC. The company saw a loss of £87.6 mn in the six months to September, as the Covid-19 pandemic dented sales, but CEO Steve Rowe said trading was ‘much more robust than at first seemed possible.’