Monthly Roundup – October 2021
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Latest Georgeson Publications
US: Georgeson publishes 2021 Annual Corporate Governance Review. ESG has historically profound impact on 2021 US AGM season according to Georgeson’s Annual Corporate Governance Review. In the 2021 season, investors’ continuing and growing focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities was evident in how they voted at US public company annual meetings. There was a rapid shift in investor voting on shareholder proposals and director elections and new and emerging topics proliferated. Average support for shareholder proposals increased across environmental, social and governance categories, with the largest year over year increase seen in environmental proposals. This ties to the trend of investors paying closer attention to climate-related issues in portfolio companies and updating proxy voting and stewardship guidelines accordingly. In 2021, 13 of the 36 environmental shareholder proposals that reached a vote passed, more than double the number that passed in the 2020 proxy season. The Annual Corporate Governance Review has been covered in IR Magazine and in The Corporate Counsel
UK & Europe: Georgeson issued client memo about the ISS 2021 Policy Survey Results. In the development of their Global Benchmark Policy each summer ISS conducts a survey, the results of which were published on 1 October 2021. ISS split the survey into two sections: a more general policy questionnaire and a climate focused questionnaire. Based on the results of these surveys, in October 2021 ISS plans to publish draft policy updates for further feedback, and in November 2021 ISS intends to publish their final policy updates for the 2022 AGM season. In this Georgeson client memo we have summarised the key findings of the investor responses to this survey which will inform both ISS’s Global Benchmark Policy and ISS’s Specialty Climate Policy for 2022.
Georgeson in the media
Institutional Asset Manager reports that “Georgeson launches Global ESG Advisory Service”. “Georgeson, a global shareholder engagement and corporate governance advisory firm, has launched a global ESG Advisory Service to help companies improve their environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies. Georgeson’s new service offering will provide companies and their boards with both the insight and tools to understand their own unique ESG landscape, establish or advance their ESG practices and communicate effectively with investors.” See the underlying information here.
Georgeson’s Don Cassidy was quoted by Agenda Week under “SEC Issues the ‘Most Meaningful’ Updates to Proxy Voting Disclosure in Decades”. “Say-on-pay voting disclosures help compensation committees not only identify shareholder support or opposition but also help comp committees ‘prioritize their shareholder engagement on executive pay changes and [allow them to] be better prepared to discuss investor opposition and concerns, provide an additional perspective beyond what was already disclosed and obtain a more in-depth understanding of why investors voted against the proposal,’ wrote Don Cassidy, global head of corporate governance at Georgeson, in an email. For example, the 2021 proxy season saw a slight dip in say-on-pay support. Average support was 89% for S&P 500 companies, down from 90% in 2020, according to Georgeson. Additionally, 17 S&P 500 companies failed to receive majority support on pay this year, up from 10 in 2020.”
ETicaNews has quoted the Georgeson European Season Review in an article entitled “Say on climate, Italian companies stay ‘silent’” (in Italian). “A decrease in contested proposals and more transparency on the "CEO Pay Ratio" for Italian companies. While climate change takes centre stage in Europe thanks to "Say on Climate", it remains silent for companies in the Italian stock market.” “In 2021, remuneration-related resolutions remain the most represented category of contested proposals in Europe. And listed companies confirm this trend for the seventh consecutive year, ranking ahead of Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and France in terms of the number of contested proposals on remuneration policies and remuneration reports. In particular, Italian companies recorded a slight increase in the number of contested proposals concerning remuneration policies (47% in 2021 compared to 44% in 2020).” See the underlying information here.
Georgeson Events
US & UK: Georgeson’s Hannah Orowitz, Cas Sydorowitz and Daniele Vitale spoke at the Computershare Client Conference about “ESG: Lead or Be Led”. “It has already been a ground-breaking year for ESG matters, with new topics emerging and investor focus increasing. And when it comes to your AGM and ESG agenda, you need to understand what matters for your company and how it will impact future growth. Join us to hear what you need to know and prioritize in the constantly expanding world of ESG.”
Italy: Georgeson and Gianni & Origoni event entitled “Dialogo con gli azionisti: politica, prassi e regole” (“Dialogue with shareholders: policy, practice and rules”). A discussion between professionals with different perspectives on the state of the art in the adoption and implementation of policies for dialogue between issuers and investors. We will explore together the existing discipline, the guidelines recently promoted by trade associations, the practices adopted so far by issuers and the market recommendations.  The aim is to offer a key to those who are working on the approval of the engagement policy, in view of the publication of the next corporate governance report.
US: Georgeson and Latham & Watkins event entitled 2022 Proxy Season: Strategically Preparing for the Upcoming Season. “The fall is a critical period for US public companies, and their management and directors, to learn about the upcoming proxy season and prepare accordingly. Latham & Watkins and Georgeson join together to provide recommendations on the proactive steps companies may wish to consider taking during this period in order to prepare for the 2022 proxy season. The first 60-minute program of the three-part proxy season webcast series will cover the following topics: Executive and director compensation developments; SEC updates and corporate governance trends; ESG observations and considerations; and Highlights of 2021 proxy season and outlook on 2022 proxy season.”
Spain: Presentation of Georgeson and ESADE report entitled “Las comisiones de Sostenibilidad de las compañías cotizadas españolas: áreas de responsabilidad, perfiles, tendencias y retos” (“The Sustainability Committees of Spanish listed companies: areas of responsibility, profiles, trends and challenges”). “Sustainability has ceased to be a secondary issue and has become a priority on the agenda of almost all Boards of Directors. Sustainability in a broad sense, understood as the need for any company to survive and which implies that companies incorporate a long-term vision into their daily management, create board committees and avoid short-term approaches that do not take ESG risks into account. These developments have been accompanied by a series of regulatory reforms and governance recommendations that respond to the demands of investors, shareholders and various stakeholders and have definitely driven the transformation of the concept of sustainability. In this context, the Esade Corporate Governance Centre and Georgeson present the study “The Sustainability Committees of Spanish listed companies: areas of responsibility, profiles, trends and challenges” in which they analyse these committees and provide, from within the Board, a practical vision and a set of reflections that may be useful to the corporate governance community as a whole.”
Shareholder Activism
  • Reuters reports about Allow a vote on your climate plan, local govt pensions tell UK companies: “Britain's local government pension schemes, hedge fund TCI and asset manager Sarasin have told UK listed companies to allow shareholders a vote on their climate transition action plans, the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum said on Thursday.  Companies should put a resolution outlining their disclosure of greenhouse gas emissions and a reduction plan on the agenda of their 2022 annual general meeting, the three groups said in a letter to company chairs.” See the LAPFF, TCI and Sarasin announcement here and their letter here

  • Responsible Investor reports that ‘Say on climate’ vote at BHP see largest shareholder opposition to date: “Mining giant BHP saw the most substantial shareholder opposition to a ‘Say on Climate’ vote to date yesterday, with a reported 17% of investors voting against its recently-unveiled Climate Transition Action Plan at its London annual general meeting. While the result is not final – the dual-listed company will put the same plan to shareholders in the Australian side of its business next month – it signals a shift in investor sentiment over ‘Say on Climate’ votes.”

  • Reuters reports that Activist investor Elliott owns “significant” stake in Toshiba as review conducted: “Hedge fund Elliott Management said it owns a ‘significant’ stake in troubled Japanese industrial conglomerate Toshiba Corp, which is conducting a strategic review amid pressure from other investors that could include a sale of the company. Elliott, one of the world's most powerful activist investors, which oversees some $48 billion in assets, has been invested in Toshiba since 2017 but recently increased its holding to just under 5%, making it a top 10 investor, people familiar with the firm's investments said. The New York-based firm's announcement comes just months after Effissimo Capital Management, Farallon Capital Management and other shareholders ousted Toshiba's chairman after the company was found to have colluded with the Japanese government to put pressure on foreign investors.”

  • The Evening Standard reports that Billionaire Dan Loeb’s Third Point smacks down activist targeting UK vehicle: “Activist investors agitate for change at companies they believe are underperforming — but it appears they don’t like having their own tactics used against them. Third Point, the New York activist hedge fund run by billionaire Dan Loeb, today hit out at the activist targeting its UK-listed vehicle. Third Point said Asset Value Investors (AVI) was trying to ‘commandeer the apparatus of the Company in pursuit of its own agenda, at the expense of all shareholders’ and accused AVI of simply trying to promote itself.”

  • City AM reports that Billionaire hedge fund tycoon Chris Hohn ramps up climate campaign against central banks: “Multi-billionaire hedge fund manager Sir Chris Hohn has ramped up his latest campaign against the banking industry with a set of reforms aimed at quelling its financing of fossil fuel producers, and called on regulators to ‘immediately reduce’ climate-related risk in the financial system. Hohn, who paid himself £343m last year in what is believed to be the UK’s largest-ever annual pay packet, has lobbied the financial bodies via his Children’s Investment Fund (TCI). In the letters, he wrote to the Bank of England (BoE), the European Central Bank, the European Banking Authority and the US Financial Stability Oversight Council to propose a series of ‘immediate steps’. Steps recommended to the BoE’s Andrew Bailey include requiring banks to share more detail of the ‘absolute carbon emissions’ in the climate disclosures of their loan books, and setting stricter capital requirements for lending to fossil fuel projects.”

  • MSCI has published a report entitled COP26 warning: World’s listed companies to cause a temperature rise of 3°C: “As direct emissions continue to rise, the quarterly MSCI Net-Zero Tracker reveals publicly listed companies will burn through their 1.5°C emissions budget within five years of COP26. MSCI releases the top 10 publicly listed companies with the largest footprint of Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.” The full document is available here

  • ProMarket has published an essay by Alex Edmans which argues that The Social Responsibility of Business Includes Profits: “Profits these days are often seen as a dirty word, but it is wrong to demonize profits. A company’s responsibility is not to sacrifice profits by donating them to charity, but to create profits only through creating value for society.” 

  • The Straits Times reports that Investors handling $5.4 trillion throw weight behind new platform pushing for green change in Asia: “The six founding members of the platform are BMO Global Asset Management (EMEA), Fidelity International, Dutch pension fund PGGM, Britain-based Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, Aviva Investors and Legal & General Investment Management. Six leading institutional investors have joined forces to spur Asian banks and energy companies to accelerate their decarbonisation transition. The platform is coordinated by Singapore-based firm Asia Research & Engagement, which provides expertise in sustainable development and change and will engage with target organisations on the investors' behalf. These include companies in Asia using and producing fossil fuel, as well as financial institutions, financial regulators and energy regulators.”

  • AsianInvestor reports that Asian firms continue to lag in gender diversity even as investors push for change: “Emerging data has convinced stakeholders that gender diversity in senior management has a positive impact on financial performance, but institutionalised problems, such as limited career advancement options and entrenched attitudes, continue to hamper female representation in top positions in Asia Pacific, experts told AsianInvestor. Only 39.6% of women believe that the promotion and advancement of women into senior roles are priorities in their organisation in practice, while 57% of men believe so, highlighting a gap between ‘saying’ and ‘doing’, according to a survey released in October by the Financial Services Institute of Australasia (Finsia).”

  • Routledge has published a book entitled Effective Directors: The Right Questions to Ask (QTA) edited by Charlotte Valeur and Claire Fargeot: “Being a good board member is not about knowing everything; it is about asking the right questions and challenging appropriately. Effective Directors: The Right Questions To Ask (QTA) is a reference book for board members and executives globally to support them in their work. With chapters written by senior company board members and respected figures in corporate governance, the questions have been drawn together to offer food for thought and useful prompts that take boards beyond operational discussions. The book clearly presents key areas to be considered by the board (there are over 50 in total) and range from board composition, to data security, diversity and inclusion, and succession planning.”
Europe developments
  • Responsible Investor reports that EU supervisors publish final proposal for taxonomy disclosures under sustainable finance reporting rules: “Europe’s three financial supervisory authorities (ESAs) published on Friday draft rules for how investors should make EU Taxonomy-related product disclosures under its new anti-greenwashing rules. The planned Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) cover how, and to what extent, economic activities in which financial products invest ‘qualify as environmentally sustainable under the Taxonomy Regulation’. The standards are part of the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) that investors are required to comply with to discourage opaque or exaggerated claims about the sustainability credentials of investment strategies. Their long-awaited publication comes after the ESAs missed the original June deadline to submit the rules to the European Commission. All SFDR rules will be bundled into a single rulebook, set to be implemented by 1 July 2022. However, disclosure requirements already in place require investors covered by the SFDR to report the alignment of their investments with the EU Taxonomy’s climate rules by 1 January – making the delay to the Taxonomy RTS a major source of frustration in the market.” 

  • The Treasury has published a policy paper entitled Greening Finance: A Roadmap to Sustainable Investing: “‘Greening Finance: A Roadmap to Sustainable Investing’ sets out the government’s long-term ambition to green the financial system and align it with the UK’s world-leading net-zero commitment. This will happen in three phases: 1) Informing – ensuring decision-useful information on sustainability is available to financial market decision-makers; 2) Acting – mainstreaming this information into business and financial decisions; 3) Shifting – financial flows across the economy shifting to align with a net-zero and nature-positive economy. This document focuses on the first phase, which will be delivered through new economy-wide Sustainability Disclosure Requirements. It sets out implementation pathways for different sectors of the economy and provides more detail on the requirements […].” The full document is available here.

  • The Daily Telegraph reports that Audit blunders mar Kwarteng’s bid to break up the Big Four: “Overhauling the scandal-hit sector has probably become even more complicated since he last checked in. Kwarteng needs smaller auditors to challenge the oligopoly of the so-called Big Four, but the accounting watchdog has been turning its ire on several of these supposed challengers.”



  • Tagesschau reports that Nur wenige Frauen in Aufsichtsräten (“Only few women on supervisory boards”): “Michael Diekmann of Allianz and Paul Achleitner of Deutsche Bank are among the most powerful and best paid supervisory board members in Germany. Women are still a small minority. The majority of the supervisory board chairs of leading German companies continue to be male. According to the latest study by the Deutsche Schutzvereinigung für Wertpapierbesitz (DSW), the proportion of women on the supervisory boards of the 30 DAX-listed corporations in 2020 was just over a third: exactly 36.5 per cent. Compared to the previous year, this was a minimal decrease of 0.1 percentage points. According to DSW, this is due to a decline in the proportion of women on the employee side – from 40.2 per cent in the previous year to 39.4 per cent in 2020. On the shareholder side, there was an increase in the proportion of women from 33.3 to 33.9 per cent. At the same time, the work is well remunerated, at least in the very large companies.” See here for the DSW study results
  • The Financial Times reports that EY and Wirecard: anatomy of a flawed audit: “First-hand testimony paints a picture of missed opportunities to uncover the fraud and a failure to understand a company EY audited for a decade.” 

  • Reuters reports that Bank of Italy governor says bold international action needed on ESG data: “‘Bold and urgent’ international coordination is needed to make data companies provide on environmental, social and governance (ESG) indicators more robust and prevent greenwashing, the head of Italy's central bank said on Thursday. A lack of regulation to strengthen ESG indicators has prompted concerns among investors and environmentalists that companies might get better ESG ratings than they deserve because of data that makes them appear more sustainable than they really are. ‘The fact that there is no obligation to oversee firms’ non-financial communications, the absence of standardised indicators... leave room for firms to attempt to alter the external perception of their sustainability in order to attract funds,’ Ignazio Visco said at a conference.” 

  • Eumedion has published the Eumedion Focus Letter 2022, which has a focus on Institutional investors: all Dutch listed companies must prepare a climate transition action plan: Their three focus points, which have been shared with all Dutch listed companies, for 2022 are: 1) The establishment of Net Zero Emissions Transition Plans: publish and discuss with shareholders a strategy and action plan in line with the Paris Agreement in order to operate completely climate-neutral by 2050 at the latest. The strategy and action plan should contain short, medium and long-term science-based CO2 emission reduction targets, preferably validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). Companies should consider an annual advisory shareholders’ vote on the implementation of the strategy and action plan.; 2) Transparency on the implementation of the diversity and inclusion policy within the total workforce: report on the diversity and inclusion policy within the total workforce and the implementation and progress of that policy.; and, 3) Transparency on human rights due diligence: implement robust procedures to identify, manage, and prevent adverse human rights impacts that are material for the business, to provide meaningful disclosures on these practices and to account for the effectiveness of the human rights management and mitigation strategy. The letter is available here.

  • The Dutch parliament has published a revised dividend exit tax bill (no longer including retroactive effect): “In view of the fact that the bill was submitted more than a year ago and there is not yet any insight into the manner of further treatment or the possible date of entry into force, the initiator believes that the interests of companies and their shareholders now weigh more heavily and it is not appropriate to leave them in uncertainty any longer regarding the retroactive effect of the bill. The initiator therefore no longer wishes to maintain the proposed retroactive effect.”

  • Het Financieele Dagblad reports that Dutch letterbox companies in demand to limit shareholder rights: (in Dutch). “Tax avoidance is one of the main reasons why foreign companies prefer the use of Dutch letterbox companies. However, an increasing number of foreign companies is taking advantage of Dutch corporate law to issue shares with different voting rights. This allows particular shareholders, for example founders or family shareholders, to control a company by special shares with extra voting rights, without having a majority interest. In other European jurisdictions more restrictions apply with regard to granting extra voting rights to shares.”

  • Eumedion has published a report entitled Sustainability embedding practices in Dutch listed companies: “Dutch listed companies must take responsibility for the negative effects that their business activities and supply chain have on people and planet by aligning their business strategy more formally with planetary boundaries. This is not only about fighting dangerous climate change, but also, for example, about counteracting the loss of biodiversity and the need to think and act circularly. This is one of the main recommendations of the research report commissioned by Eumedion and carried out by Maastricht University (MU) regarding the sustainability embedding practices in Dutch listed companies. MU examined the 2020 annual reports of 35 Dutch listed companies and interviewed 97 executives, supervisory directors and senior managers of these companies.” The full report is available here.  
  • The CNMV has announced the publication of a New circular amending the structure and templates for Annual Corporate Governance Reports and Reports on the Remuneration of Board Members of Listed Companies: “Thus, the main modifications introduced in the structure and template used for annual reports on the remuneration of the board members of listed companies are as follows: - they must report on any deviations from the procedure for the application of the remuneration policy and on any temporary exceptions that have been applied; - they must include an explanation of how the remuneration accrued and vested in the financial year contributes to the long-term and sustainable performance of the company; - a new section has been added to compare the annual amounts accrued and the annual changes over the last five years in the remuneration of each of the board members, in the consolidated results of the company and in the average remuneration on a full-time equivalent basis of the employees.” The full circular is available here

  • La Razón reports that Repsol invertirá 2.500 millones en el desarrollo del hidrógeno renovable (“Repsol to invest 2.5 billion in the development of renewable hydrogen”): (in Spanish). “Repsol is going to make a firm commitment to green hydrogen in the coming years. The energy company today presented its renewable strategy for this fuel, a roadmap that aims to ‘lead the market in the Iberian Peninsula and become the third largest producer in Europe’, as it explained. The company's Hydrogen Director, Tomás Malango, reviewed the projects and initiatives that the company will deploy throughout the renewable hydrogen value chain, with a planned investment of 2,549 million euros until 2030. Repsol will use different technologies to install a capacity of 552 MW in 2025 and 1.9 GW in 2030. 1.9 GW.”

  • Reuters reports that Bank of Ireland blames Irish pay cap as CFO announces departure: “Bank of Ireland blamed state-imposed curbs on bankers pay and bonuses for the announcement on Monday that Chief Financial Officer Myles O'Grady would leave the bank and join Irish food group Musgrave. Ireland capped executive pay at 500,000 euros ($552,300) a year during the euro zone's costliest banking rescue more than a decade ago. It banned all forms of variable pay and fringe benefits for even junior bank staff, restrictions lenders complain impedes them in attracting and retaining talent. Bank of Ireland Chief Executive Francesca McDonagh said on Monday this had left the country's largest bank by assets at a competitive disadvantage to other companies and fellow members of the stock exchange which are not restricted in the same way.”
North America
United States

  • The Wall Street Journal reports that Newest Class of Corporate Directors Is the Most Diverse Yet, but Gains Are Uneven: “U.S. public companies added the most diverse slate of new directors on record to their boards over the past year, with a surge of Black nominees and elevated numbers of women and first-time directors, according to two new studies. The gains were uneven, with about half of public-company boards adding no new members and smaller companies lagging behind their bigger counterparts, according to one of the studies, from the Conference Board and data analytics firm ESGauge. In addition, more companies of all sizes have started disclosing the racial and ethnic makeup of their boards. The second study, by executive and board recruiting firm Spencer Stuart, found that a third of new independent board members for S&P 500 companies identifying director demographics were Black, up from 11% the year before, and 7% were Latino, up from 3%. With the new arrivals, a little over three-quarters of S&P 500 board members were white and 70% were men, according to Spencer Stuart. It had released preliminary data earlier this year.”

  • The New York Times reports that Shareholder Democracy Is Getting Bigger Trial Runs: “Fund investors are rarely asked what concerns them or how they’d vote. But now, several measures aim to do that. Still, it’s just a start, our columnist says.”

  • Barron’s reports that Institutional Investors Talk Up Diversity in Investing Decisions. They Have More Work to Do.: “There’s been a lot of talk among institutional investors about the importance of factoring in racial and gender diversity into investing decisions, but few are actually walking the walk, according to a study released by Morgan Stanley on Wednesday. While the bank found that 89% of asset owners cited diversity of outside managers as a priority in their decision-making, 56% of the cohort believes that incorporating diversity could come at the expense of lower returns.”

  • Reuters reports that Tesla's $1 trillion value a double bonanza for Musk: “The surge in Tesla Inc’s stock market value beyond $1 trillion on Monday is a double bonanza for Chief Executive Elon Musk, the electric car maker’s largest shareholder. […] With Tesla's stock at a record high close of $1,024.86, Musk’s 23% stake in the newly minted trillion-dollar company is now worth about $230 billion, according to Refinitiv. That stake includes options worth over $50 billion that have vested under Musk’s 2018 compensation package. […] Musk receives no salary at Tesla: his pay package provides 12 options tranches that vest when Tesla's market capitalization and financial growth hit a series of rising milestones. The options let Musk buy Tesla shares at $70 each, a discount of more than 90% from their current price.”
Hong Kong

  • AsianInvestor reports that Family offices taking ESG into their own hands as regulators play catch up: “One portfolio manager at a single-family office told AsianInvestor that his firm had put ESG rules in place even before regulators took action, and that the consultation paper was unlikely to change the way they invest. “We do not invest in gambling or tobacco, and our investments overseas such as in the EU and the UK follow their ESG rules, which are at a much higher standard than here,” the Hong Kong-based investor said.”

  • Japan Times reports that Shinsei Bank officially rejects SBI's tender offer, set for hostile takeover: “Shinsei Bank on Thursday decided to reject a tender offer from major online financial group SBI Holdings Inc., raising the prospect of a rare hostile takeover bid in the Japanese financial sector. The standoff between the firms has escalated since SBI launched an unsolicited tender offer in early September in an attempt to raise its stake from 20% to 48%. Shinsei is planning to seek approval for its plan to launch a defense against SBI in an extraordinary shareholders meeting next month. The decision was announced after Shinsei held a board meeting earlier Thursday. At the board meeting, Shinsei decided on a counterproposal, urging SBI to remove the limit on its share purchase — a condition the financial group is unlikely to accept, as under Japanese law, obtaining a majority stake in a bank needs regulatory approval.”

  • Reuters reports that India’s promoter capitalism gets a timely bashing: “India’s shareholder uprisings come at a good time. The country’s biggest conglomerate, a leading broadcaster and a mortgage lender – all dominated by powerful backers often known as promoters – face boardroom backlashes. Even if the revolts are quelled, they underscore a welcome shift toward more market-friendly forces.”

  • Euromoney reports China’s weak ESG data undermines Xi’s bold pledges: “President Xi Jinping has set out bold plans to decarbonize China’s economy. But most companies and banks, hampered by a lack of top-down regulation, have little idea what ESG is, let alone how to measure and report it. It is a mess- and one that China needs to clear up fast.” 

  • The South China Morning Post reports that Chinese firms should face faster US stock delisting over audit rules, SEC chairman Gary Gensler tells lawmakers: “The chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission urged Chinese firms to comply with American auditing rules and said the agency supported legislation that would allow for faster delisting. Gary Gensler, testifying before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, said that the agency has ‘had discussions directly with the Chinese authorities’ about the potential speeding up of delisting and that ‘the clock is ticking’.”

  • Fortune reports that Energy crisis is turning even ‘net zero’ countries back to coal—and prices are hitting record highs: “But now that China’s manufacturing hubs are reeling from power outages, Beijing has demanded domestic coal producers reverse course and increase production to ensure energy supplies during winter. The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) on Tuesday instructed banks to prioritize lending to coal mines and power plants to secure China’s energy supplies. Chinese mines have responded by vowing to ramp up production.”
  • The Australian Financial Review reports that Shareholder AGMs move online permanently: “Companies will be able to skip “in-person” annual meetings with shareholders and instead host online gatherings, under emergency COVID-19 corporate relief that the federal government will make permanent.”

  • The Guardian Australian edition highlights that Ethical fashion report collars Australian brands over environment and workers’ rights: “The largest areas of improvement were in policy and governance, with plenty of As and A+s awarded. But when it came to actually enforcing these commitments – such as regularly auditing suppliers’ labour conditions – grades began to drop dramatically. The report also assessed companies’ environmental policies, including efforts such as emission reduction targets and the use of sustainable fibres.”

  • The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Australia’s gender pay gap reporting missing the full picture: “Gender pay gap reporting in Australia is failing to deliver constructive change, with an international study on the subject saying current practices are failing to account for a significant chunk of the country’s workforce. Despite Australia being one of the first countries to legislate for gender equality, the nation has ranked joint last, with the United Kingdom, on gender pay gap.”

  • The Australian Financial Review informs that ANZ, NAB, Westpac hit with AGM protest on loans expanding fossil fuels: “Environmental group Market Forces has lodged resolutions with ANZ, National Australia Bank and Westpac calling for a commitment to stop funding fossil fuel growth projects.” “’Australia’s major banks have all committed to net-zero by 2050 but continue undermining that commitment through their financing activity,’ Mr Bertolus said.”

  • The Sydney Morning Herald reports that ‘We’ve not progressed’: Male CEOs in more than 96% of ASX-listed finance firms: “More than 96 per cent of the country’s largest financial services firms have a male chief executive, with the private equity and investment banking industries among the worst offenders for gender equality in leadership roles. There are only six female chief executives in financial services firms across the ASX-500.”

  • The Australian Financial Review reports What business needs to know about the circular economy: “Companies need to shift from a “single use mindset” when thinking about how products are designed and later disposed of […] Adopting a circular economy model for Australia could generate $1.8 trillion in direct economic benefits over 20 years (as well as saving 165 million tonnes of CO₂ a year by 2040).” 

  • The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Origin Energy faces climate push as investors dial up the heat: “Origin Energy has faced a large investor push to align its spending strategy with stronger goals to arrest global warming and fielded questions about its plan to drill for more gas in the Northern Territory. More than 40 per cent of Origin’s shareholders on Wednesday defied the board and backed an activist-led resolution for the company to match all its future capital expenditure with the Paris Agreement’s ultimate objective of limiting temperature rises to 1.5 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels – the cap scientists say is needed to avoid the worst effects of climate change.”
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