Sunday 1st February 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 -

Policy intervention needed as momentum stalls on ‘sustainability’ says new Aviva Investors’ report

Monday, 18 June 2012
Policy intervention needed as momentum stalls on ‘sustainability’ says new Aviva Investors’ report Trends in Sustainability Disclosure: Benchmarking the World’s Composite Stock Exchanges, a report produced by Aviva Investors in partnership with CK Capital, reveals that while a number of European stock exchanges reflect a high level of integrated sustainability reporting from constituents, only 52 companies out of 4,001 mid large and mega caps around the world engaged in ‘complete’ first generation sustainability disclosure in 2010.  The paper has been prepared for the Sustainable Stock Exchange 2012 Global Dialogue, hosted by UNCTAD in Rio. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

Trends in Sustainability Disclosure: Benchmarking the World’s Composite Stock Exchanges, a report produced by Aviva Investors in partnership with CK Capital, reveals that while a number of European stock exchanges reflect a high level of integrated sustainability reporting from constituents, only 52 companies out of 4,001 mid large and mega caps around the world engaged in ‘complete’ first generation sustainability disclosure in 2010.  The paper has been prepared for the Sustainable Stock Exchange 2012 Global Dialogue, hosted by UNCTAD in Rio.

The report says that while the majority of the world’s mid, large and mega-caps engage in some form of first generation sustainability reporting, it is now clear that the proportion of companies voluntarily disclosing each of the first generation indicators is slowing. Steve Waygood, chief responsible investment officer at Aviva Investors, says, “Investors are increasingly demanding sustainability information from companies to inform their broader decision making, deepen the quality of market information available and ultimately the quality of our capital markets, so this decline is cause for concern. Our study shows a clear divergence across exchanges and sectors on the level of disclosure on sustainability issues and growing evidence of a slowdown in the uptake of sustainability reporting practices.  This reflects the lack of a co-ordinated reporting framework.”

“We see a real opportunity for policymakers to step in and define a common set of sustainability indicators. The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Coalition launched last month, which represents investors with assets under management of approximately $2trn, is urging all nations at Rio+20 to commit to develop an international policy framework. This framework should look to foster the development of national measures requiring, on a report or explain basis, the integration of material sustainability issues within the corporate reporting cycle of all listed and large private companies.” Doug Morrow, Vice President of Research at CK Capital and lead author of the report, adds: “This study shows that while the majority of the world’s largest companies by market capitalisation report some first generation sustainability indicators, the ‘actionability’ of this data for investors and other stakeholders is constrained by a lack of completeness, standardisation and timeliness.”



The wonder of it all is that with all the problems companies face right now in finding new business opportunities and markets that any investors are insisting on these kinds of constraints.  However, be that as it may, the report ranks the world’s composite stock exchanges* according to the sustainability disclosure practices of their listed companies.  The report investigates disclosure rates and timeliness for a range of seven “first generation” sustainability indicators:  energy, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, water, waste, lost time injury rate, payroll costs and employee turnover.

In a ranking of the world’s composite stock exchanges by overall sustainability disclosure, the Netherlands comes out on top, with Denmark (2), Finland (3) Spain (4) and South Africa (5) also in the top five. The Nordic countries rank particularly well with four countries appearing in the top ten. The two emerging market exchanges that score well are South Africa (5) and Brazil (9)**. 

Certain countries are also excelling in disclosure around particular “first generation” indicators with: 

Finland scoring the highest disclosure rate on four of the seven indicators: payroll data (91%), waste (83%), energy (78%) and GHG emissions (52%) South Africa has the fastest growing disclosure rate, ranking first in five of the seven indicators: water, waste, GHG emissions, employee turnover and lost time injury rate

Companies trading in Denmark are the world’s most timely sustainability reporters; 57% of all large companies on the Danish composite with a Q4 2011 financial year end had published 2011 sustainability data by 1 May 2012

Overall, financial companies had the lowest sustainability disclosure of all industries, ranking last on five of the seven indicators; energy, GHG emissions, water consumption, waste and lost time injury rate 

Utility companies came out on top in most indicators and ranked first on disclosure around GHG emissions, water consumption, waste and employee turnover

Regionally, Europe and South East Asia scored highest as being the quickest to market with sustainability data. Waygood concluded: “Markets are driven by information. If the information the market receives is short term, then these characteristics will define the way these markets operate. It is time for regulators to act.”

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