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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.

APG, QIC, and Swiss Life Buys MIRA Stake in Brussels Airport

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APG Asset Management, QIC (Queensland Investment Corporation), and Zurich-based Swiss Life Group, spent about €2 billion for Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets’ (MIRA) 36% stake in Brussels Airport. APG and QIC will each have a stake of 16.8% in the airport asset with Swiss Life having a 2.4% ownership stake. QIC will hold its airport stake in its Global Infrastructure Fund, which has third-party investors. Since 2011, the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan (OTPP) still holds a 39% stake in the airport, while the Belgian government retains a 25% ownership stake.

APG Asset Management manages assets for a number of investors including Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP.

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CIC Seeks Allies for Belt and Road Cooperation Fund

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The China Investment Corporation (CIC), which indirectly controls China’s largest banks, is seeking allies to form a cross-border investment vehicle to support One-Belt, One-Road projects – also known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The CIC is calling it the Belt and Road Cooperation Fund. The fund’s size and specific investment methods are in the preliminary phase. The BRI has been underway for the last five years.

The multi-lateral fund will be another way to funnel capital into specific belt and road projects. [ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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Fidelity National Information Services to Acquire Worldpay

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Jacksonville, Florida-based Fidelity National Information Services, Inc., better known by the abbreviation FIS, agreed to acquire payments processor Worldpay, Inc. for approximately US$ 35 billion (not including debt) in cash and stock, or US$ 112.12 per share. Around 19 months ago, Cincinnati-based credit card processor Vantiv, Inc. acquired Worldpay for just under US$ 10 billion, while FIS agreed to acquire First Data for US$ 22 billion in January 2019.

The combined company will keep the name FIS and be headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. The transaction is subject to receipt of required regulatory and shareholder approvals and other customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the second half of 2019.

Deal Terms

[ Content protected for Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Standard subscribers only. Please subscribe to view content. ]

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