Friday 30th January 2015
NEWS TICKER FRIDAY, JANUARY 30TH: Morningstar has moved the Morningstar Analyst Rating™ of the Fidelity Japan fund to Neutral. The fund was previously Under Review due to a change in management. Prior to being placed Under Review, the fund was rated Neutral. Management of the fund has passed to Hiroyuki Ito - a proven Japanese equity manager, says Morningstar. Ito recently joined Fidelity from Goldman Sachs, where he successfully ran a Japanese equity fund which was positively rated by Morningstar. “At Fidelity, the manager is backed by a large and reasonably experienced analyst team, who enjoy excellent access to senior company management. While we value Mr Ito’s long experience, we are mindful that he may need some further time to establish effective working relationships with the large team of analysts and develop a suitable way of utilising this valuable resource,” says the Morningstar release - The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) today released a list of orders of administrative enforcement actions taken against banks and individuals in December. No administrative hearings are scheduled for February 2015. The FDIC issued a total of 53 orders and one notice. The orders included: five consent orders; 13 removal and prohibition orders; 11 section 19 orders; 15 civil money penalty; nine orders terminating consent orders and cease and desist orders; and one notice. More details are available on its website - Moody's Investors Service has completed a performance review of the UK non-conforming Residential Mortgage Backed Securities (RMBS) portfolio. The review shows that the performance of the portfolio has improved as a result of domestic recovery, increasing house prices and continued low interest-rates. Post-2009, the low interest rate environment has benefitted non-conforming borrowers, a market segment resilient to the moderate interest rate rise. Moody's also notes that UK non-conforming RMBS exposure to interest-only (IO) loans has recently diminished as the majority of such loans repaid or refinanced ahead of their maturity date - The London office of Deutsche Bank is being investigated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), according to The Times newspaper. Allegedly, the bank has been placed under ‘enhanced supervision’ by the FCA amid concerns about governance and regulatory controls at the bank. The enhanced supervision order was taken out some months ago, says the report, however it has only just been made public - According to Reuters, London Stock Exchange Group will put Russell Investments on the block next month, after purchasing it last year. LSE reportedly wants $1.4bn - Legg Mason, Inc. has reported net income of $77m for Q3 fiscal 2014, compared with $4.9m in the previous quarter, and net income of $81.7m over the period. In the prior quarter, Legg Mason completed a debt refinancing that resulted in a $107.1m pre-tax charge. Adjusted income for Q3 fiscal was $113.1m compared to $40.6m in the previous quarter and $124.6m in Q3 fiscal. For the current quarter, operating revenues were $719.0m, up 2% from $703.9m in the prior quarter, and were relatively flat compared to $720.1m in Q3 fiscal. Operating expenses were $599.6m, up 5% from $573.5m in the prior quarter, and were relatively flat compared to $598.4min Q3 of fiscal 2014. Assets under management were $709.1bn as the end of December, up 4% from $679.5bn as of December 31, 2013. The Legg Mason board of directors says it has approved a new share repurchase authorisation for up to $1bn of common stock and declared a quarterly cash dividend on its common stock in the amount of $0.16 per share. - The EUR faces a couple of major releases today, says Clear Treasury LLP, and while the single currency has traded higher through the week, the prospect of €60bn per month in QE will likely keep the euro at a low ebb. The bigger picture hasn’t changed, yesterday’s run of German data was worse than expected with year on year inflation declining to -.5% (EU harmonised level). Despite the weak reading the EUR was unperturbed - The Singapore Exchange (SGX) is providing more information to companies and investors in a new comprehensive disclosure guide. Companies wanting clarity on specific principles and guidelines on corporate governance can look to the guide, which has been laid out in a question-and-answer format. SGX said listed companies are encouraged to include the new disclosure guide in their annual reports and comply with the 2012 Code of Corporate Governance, and will have to explain any deviations in their reporting collateral. - Cordea Savills on behalf of its European Commercial Fund has sold Camomile Court, 23 Camomile Street, London for £47.97mto a French pension fund, which has entrusted a real estate mandate to AXA Real Estate. The European Commercial Fund completed its initial investment phase in 2014 at total investment volume of more than €750m invested in 20 properties. Active Asset Management in order to secure a stable distribution of circa 5% a year. which has been achieved since inception of the fund is the main focus of the Fund Management now. Gerhard Lehner, head of portfolio management, Germany, at Cordea Savills says “With the sale of this property the fund is realising a value gain of more than 40%. This is the fruit of active Asset Management but does also anticipate future rental growth perspectives. For the reinvestment of the returned equity we have already identified suitable core office properties.” Meantime, Kiran Patel, chief investment officer at Cordea Savills adds: “The sale of Camomile Court adds to the £370m portfolio disposal early in the year. Together with a number of other asset sales, our total UK transaction activity since January stands at £450m. At this stage of the cycle, we believe there is merit in banking performance and taking advantage of some of the strong demand for assets in the market.” - US bourses closed higher last night thanks to much stronger Jobless Claims data (14yr low) which outweighed mixed earnings results. Overnight, Asian bourses taken positive lead from US, even as Bank of Japan data shows that inflation is still falling, consumption in shrinking and manufacturing output is just under expectations. According to Michael van Dulken at Accendo Markets, “Japan’s Nikkei [has been] helped by existing stimulus and weaker JPY. In Australia, the ASX higher as the AUD weakened following producer price inflation adding to expectations of an interest rate cut by the RBA, following other central banks recently reacting to low inflation. Chinese shares down again ahead of a manufacturing report.” - Natixis has just announced the closing of the debt financing for Seabras-1, a new subsea fiber optic cable system between the commercial and financial centers of Brazil and the United States. The global amount of debt at approximately $270m was provided on a fully-underwritten basis by Natixis -

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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