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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.

US Becomes the Largest Crude Oil Producer in the World

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With the onset of fracking technology and a flood of capital entering the Texas energy market over the past decade, the United States is now the largest producer of crude oil. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, on September 12th, they revealed, “The United States likely surpassed Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the world’s largest crude oil producer earlier this year, based on preliminary estimates in EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO). In February, U.S. crude oil production exceeded that of Saudi Arabia for the first time in more than two decades. In June and August, the United States surpassed Russia in crude oil production for the first time since February 1999.”

Light sweet crude oil grades have rapidly expanded since 2011.

With two months remaining before U.S. sanctions go into effect against Iran, Iran’s crude exports are falling fast. European oil companies are exiting Tehran fearful of the repercussions of sanction violations, coupled with the country’s currency crisis. Iran’s influence over global oil prices have dwindled.

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Trump Goes Across the Political Aisle to Nominate Nellie Liang to Federal Reserve Board

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U.S. President Trump nominated Nellie Liang to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. She is a long-time staff member of the Federal Reserve, joining in 1986 as a research economist. Liang must still be confirmed by the U.S. Senate pending the job post. She is a graduate of University of Notre Dame in 1979 and received her doctorate from the University of Maryland in 1986.

Ms. Liang is a registered Democrat.

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Ivanhoé Cambridge to Acquire Callahan Capital Properties

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Ivanhoé Cambridge, a unit of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), signed a deal to acquire Callahan Capital Properties (CCP). Eastdil Secured advised on the transaction. CCP is Ivanhoé Cambridge’s investment partner of six years.[ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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