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How ESG Considerations Can Drive Voting at the Board Level

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The Council of Institutional Investor’s spring conference for 2018 – held this week in Washington D.C. at the Omni Shoreham Hotel – was packed with member-hosted panels, where nearly 400 of the top investment professional, regulators, and corporate governance experts gathered together to share their insights and engage in forward-looking discussions on how to drive a multi-stakeholder approach to responsible investment over the long-term.

Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute (SWFI) had the opportunity to attend several breakout sessions, including one presented by Maryland-based Institutional Shareholder Services that sought to address one of the most pressing challenges facing institutional investors today: How can environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria help drive voting at the board level? Moderated by Georgina Marshall, Head of Global Research at ISS, panelists provided a diverse array of perspectives on how to harness ESG considerations as an effective decision-making tool.

Player-Coach Model

For Bonnie Saynay, Global Head of Responsible Investments at Invesco, fostering an environment conducive to communication with investment teams using a “player-coach” model is critical. Moreover, Saynay warned investors of thinking too broadly on ESG considerations, and to instead focus in on the criteria that is most important to them as an organization, and to then tailor their stewardship practices to match those priorities: “If everything is important, nothing is important,” she said.

Clare Payne, head of corporate governance for North America at Legal & General Investment Management, highlighted the importance of procuring the latest ranking data from a number of different providers, as well as how to develop one’s own internal system for scoring so as to cut through the clutter and provide a contextualized framework for making investment decisions on your own terms.

Remuneration is the name of the game for Robbie Miles, Vice President and ESG analyst at Allianz Global Investors. Amid the ever broadening scope of influence that responsible investment commands, Miles urged attendees to work with their managers on mandates that link compensation to the long-term performance of the fund, as well as long-term holding periods.

Wrapping up the panel was Stu Dalheim, Vice President of Shareholder Advocacy at Calvert Research Management, advocated for diversity at the board level across a number of different metrics – including ethnicity, gender, and professional backgrounds – in order to reflect the reality of their client base, as well as provide an apparatus for robust debate and adaptation in an ever-changing business environment.

LIA Files Lawsuit Against JPMorgan Chase

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The Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) has reportedly filed a lawsuit against JPMorgan in London, according to a spokeswoman for the country’s sovereign wealth fund. Like Libya itself, there are a number of competing factions within the LIA claiming to be the rightful custodians of the some US$ 60 billion that once resided within the fund’s accounts worldwide. With their ownership unclear, many of these accounts remain frozen under sanctions imposed by the United Nations since 2011, resulting in a number of legal battles taken up by Libyan authorities seeking to recoup and take control of the fund’s scattered assets.

The sovereign wealth fund still has its overseas assets frozen relevant to United Nations Security Council resolutions. However, the Libyan Foreign Investment Company, operating under the acronym
LAFICO, is a large sovereign wealth enterprise under LIA. It continues to run out of Tripoli Tower.

London Case

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Massive Demand is Expected as Saudi Arabia Opens Public Cinemas

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Saudi Arabia will be opening the country’s first public movie theatre in more than a generation on April 18, 2018 in collaboration with AMC Entertainment, according to an announcement from the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information. Located in Riyadh’s King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD), the cinema complex’s debut marks the signing of a definitive agreement between the U.S.-based cinema operator and the Public Investment Fund’s (PIF) newly-incorporated Development and Investment Entertainment Company (DIEC). Marvel’s “Black Panther” will be the first movie shown publicly.

Saudi Arabia lifted a 35-year ban on public cinemas last December as part of the kingdom’s grand Vision 2030 initiative to diversify its economy away from hydrocarbon revenues and expand growth of a nascent entertainment industry, opening the doors for investment partnerships with foreign entertainment companies. In tandem with the lifting of the ban, the PIF signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with AMC – the largest cinema operator by screens in the U.S., Europe and the world – to explore a wide range of commercial opportunities.

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Why Did BlackRock Acquire Tennenbaum Capital Partners?

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Asset manager giant BlackRock Inc. signed a definitive agreement to acquire Tennenbaum Capital Partners, LLC, in a bid to strengthen its credit platform. BlackRock wants to build a larger private credit business to expand fee generation and offer clients more than just passive products. Formed in 1999, Los Angeles-based Tennenbaum Capital Partners is a firm that focuses on middle market performing credit and special situation credit opportunities. [ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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