Monday 30th May 2016
NEWS TICKER, FRIDAY MAY 27TH: BGEO Group plc, the London listed holding company of JSC Bank of Georgia, has this morning announced that Bank of Georgia, Georgia’s leading bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) have signed a GEL220m (approximately £70m) loan agreement with a maturity of five years. EBRD obtained the local currency funds through a private placement of GEL-dominated bonds arranged by Galt &Taggart, a wholly owned subsidiary of BGEO. This is the largest and the longest maturity local currency loan granted to a Georgian bank, which will allow Bank of Georgia to issue longer-term local currency loans, providing essential support for micro, small and medium sized enterprises to converge to DCFTA requirements, as well as underserved women entrepreneurs. “We are keen to develop financial products and lending practices, to service specifically women-led SMEs, which will ultimately increase their involvement in developing Georgia’s private sector”, says Irakli Gilauri, CEO of BGEO Group - The UK’s CBI has responded to analysis from the Treasury showing that a vote to leave the European Union could negatively impact UK pensions. Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Economics Director, says that: “All pension schemes benefit when funds can be invested across a stable, growing economy, to best support people in their retirement years. Any financial market turmoil caused by a Brexit is likely to have a negative effect on household wealth, the value of funds and damage pensions here at home, especially for those looking to retire within the next few years. The sheer weight of credible evidence points towards a serious economic shock if the UK were to leave the EU, meaning a hit to the value of our private pensions, jobs and prosperity.” - EPFR Global reports that Nine weeks into the second quarter mutual fund investors remain underwhelmed by their choices as they seek to navigate a global economy characterized by political uncertainty in Europe, lacklustre corporate profits and the prospect of another interest rate hike in the US, economic stress in major emerging markets and Japan's experiment with negative interest rates. During the week ending May 25 all nine of the major EPFR Global-tracked Emerging and Developed Markets Equity Fund groups posted outflows, as did Global, High Yield, Asia-Pacific and Emerging Markets Bond Funds, seven of the 11 major Sector Fund groups and three out of every five Country Equity Fund groups. Alternative Funds look to have taken in over $1bn for the fifth time in the past 14 weeks. Overall, EPFR Global-tracked Bond Funds added $2.6 billion to their year-to-date tally while another $9.1bn flowed out of Equity Funds. Some $12bn was absorbed by Money Market Funds with US funds attracting the bulk of the fresh money. EPFR Global-tracked Emerging Markets Equity Funds remained under pressure from many directions. China's economic data and policy shifts continue to paint a mixed picture for growth in the world's second largest economy, the US Federal Reserve is talking up the prospects of a second rate hike this summer, Europe's recovery appears to be running out of stream and the recent recovery in commodities prices is being viewed with scepticism in many quarters. All four of the major groups recorded outflows during the week ending May 25, with the diversified Global Emerging Markets (GEM) Equity Funds seeing the biggest outflows in cash terms and EMEA Equity Funds in flows as a percentage of AUM terms. Latin America Equity Funds extended their longest outflow streak since late 3Q15 as investors who bought into the prospect of political and economic change in Brazil confront the messy reality. However, year to date Brazil has been the top emerging market for all EPFR Global-tracked Equity Funds as managers bet that the impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff will open the door to more centrist economic policymaking says the funds data maven. Among the EMEA markets, the firm reports that GEM managers are showing more optimism than investors. EMEA Equity Funds have now posted outflows for five straight weeks and investors have pulled over $300m out of Russia and South Africa Equity Funds so far this month, though GEM allocations for both South Africa and Russia climbed coming into this month. The latest allocations data indicates less optimism about China despite is still impressive official numbers - annual GDP was running at 6.7% in 1Q16 - and the edge the recent slide in the renminbi should give Chinese exporters. GDP growth in Emerging Asia's second largest market, India, is even higher. Elsewhere, India Equity Funds have struggled to attract fresh money as investors wait to for domestic business investment and the government's reform agenda to kick into higher gears says EPFR Global – According to New Zealand press reports, stock exchange operator, NZX, will initiate confidential enquiries into listed companies that experience large, unexplained share price movements, to determine whether they may be holding undisclosed "material" information even while remaining in compliance with the market's Listing Rules that require disclosure of material information at certain trigger points. In an announcement this morning, NZX also warned investors not to assume that a listed entity's Listing Rules compliance statements meant they did not have material information in their possession which would potentially require eventual disclosure - Asian stocks were modestly higher today, largely on the back of increasingly softening sentiment from the US Federal Reserve. Most people think there will be one rate hike this year, but likely it will be in July rather than June. Either way, it will be one and not two or three. Fed chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to talk about interest rates at an event at Harvard University today and the expectation is that a softer approach for the rest of this year will be writ large; a good signal of intent will follow today’s quarterly growth stats. The presidential election will encourage caution; continued market volatility will encourage caution and mixed manufacturing data will encourage caution. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index added 0.4% to touch 16,834.84 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.9% to 20,576.52. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.3% to 2,829.67. The Straits Times Index (STI) ended 6.65 points or 0.24% higher to 2773.31, taking the year-to-date performance to -3.80%. The top active stocks today were SingTel, which gained 1.05%, DBS, which gained 0.07%, UOB, which gained0.11%, Keppel Corp, which gained2.47% and Ascendas REIT, which closed unchanged. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index gained 0.27%, while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index rose 0.30% - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) says it is taking the first step towards developing a green financial system in Kazakhstan in partnership with the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) Authority. EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti and AIFC Governor Kairat Kelimbetov signed an agreement today on the sidelines of the Foreign Investors Council’s plenary session to commission a scoping study for the development of a green financing system in Kazakhstan. The study, scheduled to be completed in 2017, will assess the demand for green investments, identify gaps in current regulations, and make recommendations for the introduction of green financing standards and for the development of the green bonds market and carbon market services. The development of a green financing system would be consistent with the COP21 Paris Agreement, aligning financing flows with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate resilient development. The AIFC Authority was put in place earlier this year and is tasked with developing an international financial centre in Astana. In March, the AIFC Authority, TheCityUK and the EBRD signed a Memorandum of Understanding to support the establishment of the financial centre and to encourage and improve opportunities for the financial and related professional services industries – Turkey’s Yuksel has issued notice to holders of $200m senior notes due 2015 (ISIN XS0558618384), and filed with the Luxembourg Stock Exchange, that the company has agreed a term sheet with the ad-hoc committee of noteholders and its advisors to implement a restructuring of the notes and is currently finalising the required scheme documentation with the Committee. Once agreed, the Company will apply to the English High Court for leave to convene a meeting of note creditors to vote on the scheme proposals as soon as reasonably practicable when the High Court reconvenes after vacation in June 2016 - Following the agreement in principle of the May 24th Eurogroup for the release of the next loan tranche to Greece, domestic authorities have intensified their efforts for the completion of all pending issues reports EFG Eurobank in Athens. According to Greece’s Minister of Finance Euclid Tsakalotos, on the fulfilment of all pending issues, €7.5bn will be disbursed in mid-June, of which €1.8bn will be channeled to clear state arrears – This weekend is the second UK May Bank Holiday. FTSE Global Markets will reopen on Tuesday, May 31st at 9.00 am. We wish our readers and clients a sunny, restful, safe and exceedingly happy holiday.

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FTSE Group’s March review of countering bribery criteria and FTSE4Good

Friday, 09 March 2012
FTSE Group’s March review of countering bribery criteria and FTSE4Good FTSE Group, the global index provider, has announced changes following its March FTSE4Good and ESG Ratings semi-annual review; including the roll-out of new countering bribery criteria to be applied to the assessments of over 1200 companies.  http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

FTSE Group, the global index provider, has announced changes following its March FTSE4Good and ESG Ratings semi-annual review; including the roll-out of new countering bribery criteria to be applied to the assessments of over 1200 companies. 

The changes are expected to lead to improvements in the index; supported by new research from Edinburgh University that shows that the engagement FTSE carries out with companies regarding new FTSE4Good criteria has led to hundreds of companies globally improving their environmental, social and governance practices.

The FTSE4Good Index Series is designed to measure the performance of companies that meet globally recognised corporate responsibility standards, and to facilitate investment in those companies. The index series is now being complemented with the launch of the FTSE4Good ESG Ratings, to provide a broader range of ESG data and services.



The indices are governed by an independent ‘FTSE4Good Policy Committee’ which meets in March and September for index reviews.  This committee directs the evolution and development of the criteria for the index series, and approves additions and deletions to the index at reviews in line with the inclusion criteria and index ground rules. 

The FTSE4Good ESG Ratings can be used in a variety of ways, building a basis for active portfolio management, company engagement, customised indices, ESG risk analysis or research and analysis.

24 additions, 13 deletions to the FTSE4Good Index Series

The March semi-annual review has seen 24 new additions to the FTSE4Good Index Series from ten countries. This includes Siemens, a company which has faced up to the very costly and damaging bribery scandals of its past, through making considerable changes throughout its business to embed new governance and compliance systems.  Another company that has made significant changes and is added is EDF.

As a result of stringent criteria for nuclear safety and waste disposal being introduced in 2010, companies involved in nuclear power generation are no longer excluded from the index series. EDF has become only the fifth company globally to meet the detailed industry-specific criteria. The largest number of additions at this review are from the USA, contributing seven of the companies. Representation of South Korea has also seen a significant increase with four companies joining the existing eleven. At the same time, 13 companies are being deleted from the index for no longer meeting the FTSE4Good criteria. More details on additions and deletions are available on FTSE’s website (see notes section for more details). The changes to the index will be effective after the close of markets on 16 March 2012.

Details of the new criteria can be found at the following link upon free registration http://www.ftse.com/analytics/ftse4good-esgratings/

Countering Bribery Criteria Roll-Out

The practice of bribery is a risk to long term investors.  Although it can allow companies to secure lucrative contracts in the short term it can have disastrous consequences when these acts are uncovered, through litigation and impacts on intangible value such as brand and reputation.  As new bribery regulations, such as the 2011 UK Bribery Act, are introduced around the world, and with increased global communication, the risks associated with bribery are increasing.  FTSE is responding by providing investors with more detailed corporate bribery data through the FTSE ESG (Environmental Social and Governance) Ratings service and will also be incorporating this within the criteria assessments for the FTSE4Good Index Series.

Previously only those companies deemed to be facing the very greatest potential risk of bribery were being assessed, now the criteria will be rolled out to cover an additional 1200 companies that are defined as “medium risk” based on their industrial sector, countries of operation and public sector contracts.  Of these, approximately 550 are in the FTSE4Good Index Series, and 130 companies will need to make improvements in order to maintain inclusion in the index.  The criteria, set out in full on FTSE’s website, consider how well companies are reducing the likelihood of bribery and draws on Transparency International’s Business Principles for Countering Bribery Details of the new criteria can be found at the following link upon free registration http://www.ftse.com/analytics/ftse4good-esgratings/.

Edinburgh University research on the impact of FTSE4Good on corporate practices

Established over a decade ago now in partnership with EIRIS, the FTSE4Good Index has a track record of regularly strengthening the eligibility criteria. These enhancements provide investors with a more detailed analysis of ESG investment risk but also act to stimulate change in corporate practices.  FTSE’s Responsible Investment Unit undertakes a direct engagement programme with companies facing potential deletion from the index series. Research from Edinburgh University has identified that this form of engagement has been highly effective at stimulating improvements in corporate practices.  From an analysis of the responses of over a 1000 companies they found that the rate of improvement on ESG practices doubles when the company is in direct engagement with FTSE regarding FTSE4Good criteria. See Mackenzie et al (Nov 2011) at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1966474 It is expected that FTSE’s engagement with companies on the countering bribery criteria will also have this impact.

 

2 See Mackenzie et al (Nov 2011) at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1966474

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