The week in investor relations: FTSE 100's lack of black executives, a Spanish IPO boom and Turkish small caps

Feb 05, 2021
This week’s other IR-related stories that we didn’t cover on

– There are no black executives in any of the top three roles at Britain’s 100 biggest companies, reported The Guardian. This is the first time in six years that the FTSE 100 has had no black executives holding CEO, CFO or chair positions, according to research from the executive recruitment and diversity consultancy agency Green Park, which first began reporting the data in 2014. Cruise operator Carnival – run by black chief executive Arnold Donald – dropped out of the FTSE 100 last summer, while South African businessman Fred Phaswana retired as the joint chair of the packaging and paper group Mondi, reported the paper.

CNN reported that Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, one of the few black CEOs of a Fortune 500 firm, will retire in June after a 30-year tenure with the company. The pharmaceutical company named CFO Robert Davis as its new leader, effective July 1. Frazier has served as Merck’s CEO since 2011 and made headlines in recent years for his statements on racial justice and his public tussles with former US president Donald Trump.

– Spain’s national stock market, home to just a single listing in 2020, is gearing up to host a flurry of green energy providers in the coming months, according to Bloomberg. An increasingly environmentally conscious investor base and a national government keen to generate power from sustainable sources are driving the trend. Citing ‘people familiar with the matter’, Bloomberg said at least four companies, including Repsol, are working on possible IPOs of renewable assets in Madrid this year.

– In other European listing news, Bloomberg also reported that Turkey’s small-cap companies are rushing to tap public markets and ‘cash in on a flood of local retail investors, who have helped push the country’s stocks to new highs’. Three small-cap companies have listed recently, it said, with another seven looking to go public in Turkey in 2021. If all these listings come to fruition, Bloomberg said it would be Borsa Istanbul’s busiest year for IPOs since 2014.

– Aviva, one of the UK’s largest asset managers, said it is prepared to use the ‘ultimate sanction’ and divest fully from 30 of the world’s largest oil, gas, mining and utilities companies unless they do more to tackle climate change, reported the Financial Times (paywall). The investment group, which manages £355 bn ($487 bn), has written to the companies, calling on them to ‘set net-zero emission goals and integrate climate risks into their strategy, including their plans for capital expenditure’. The paper said that if companies fail to respond to Aviva’s requests over the next one to three years, they will be divested across both its equity and its credit portfolio.

– Shares of Chinese short video company Kuaishou rose nearly 200 percent at market open on its debut in Hong Kong, according to CNBC. The ‘TikTok rival’ raised HK$41.28 bn ($5.32 bn) from the biggest tech IPO since Uber. The company’s main business is a short video app and it makes money from users who buy virtual gifts to give to their favorite streamers, explained the news outlet, adding that Kuaishou is also pushing into new areas such as e-commerce.

– ‘Deep-pocketed’ investors pumped a record $4.2 bn into big technology stocks last week, according to flow data from Bank of America reported by Reuters. ‘Big client zeitgeist in the past two weeks has unambiguously been to buy the FAANMG (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Microsoft and Google-owner Alphabet) underperformance,’ Michael Hartnett, BofA’s chief investment strategist, was quoted as saying. Big investors were taking advantage of the slight pullback on Wall Street while retail traders were busy buying stocks such as GameStop, Reuters added.

The Wall Street Journal (paywall) reported that US lawmakers from both parties are pushing back against companies that have suspended campaign donations, arguing that the freeze unfairly punishes everyone and could undermine corporate interests. According to people familiar with the matter, Democrats friendly with business have complained to companies that they are being penalized for actions taken by Republicans challenging the results of the US presidential election.

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