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Linaburg Talks Climate Change and Institutional Investors at the United Nations

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Photo Credit: United Nations Webcast, webtv.un.org

Photo Credit: United Nations Webcast, webtv.un.org

The leaders of Pacific island nations are voicing their opinion on the negative effects of climate change. Many fear rising sea levels will damage their territorial integrity, economy and livelihood. One of the islands, Kiribati, has one of the oldest sovereign wealth funds in the modern age. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gave a speech touching on that financing will be essentially to advance the support of small island developing states with regard to climate change. Carl Linaburg, chairman of the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute (SWFI), spoke at the United Nations on June 29th, during the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) event, to talk about institutional investors and climate change. Carl Linaburg invented the Linaburg-Maduell Transparency Index (LMTI), a way of objectively measuring the transparency of sovereign wealth funds with Michael Maduell in 2008.

However, when focusing specifically on the size of the sovereign investor market, he said, “US$ 7.2 trillion dollars is quite a bit of money that could make an impact on climate change for the better or for the worst.”

Linaburg commented on upcoming regulatory changes regarding investment and climate change being brought down by the European Commission. Linaburg mentioned the European Union (EU) wants to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum threshold of 40% by 2030. Globally, pension funds like CalPERS, CalSTRS and Korea’s National Pension Service (NPS) are examining how climate change and regulation related to it could impact their portfolios. In addition, asset managers running massive amounts of capital for pensions and wealth funds are taking notice.

Long-Term Institutional Investors Playing a Large Role Combating Climate Change

The SWFI chairman discussed how sovereign wealth funds, pensions and family offices can play a role in the “grand scheme of things.” Linaburg talked about platforms being formed institutional investors such as sovereign funds, foundations, pensions and other long-term investors looking at green investments. However, when focusing specifically on the size of the sovereign investor market, he said, “US$ 7.2 trillion dollars is quite a bit of money that could make an impact on climate change for the better or for the worst.”

Linaburg highlighted, “Another thing that we need to understand about sovereign wealth funds is that these are, indeed, profit vehicles. They are initially set up to provide for their future economies, and typically they are run by former financial gurus who are good at producing a return on investment. These individuals have a lot of pressure not only from their governmental owners but also from the public to produce a positive return on their portfolios. The key to approaching sovereign wealth funds with initiatives like climate change is finding a middle ground.”

He mentioned the growing movement of the Portfolio Decarbonisation Coalition, taking a strong foothold in Europe. This coalition was founded by Amundi, AP4, CDP and the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative. It is a multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to drive greenhouse gas emissions down by assembling institutional investors to gradually embrace the decarbonisation of their portfolios. Linaburg spoke about hearing the speech of Mats Andersson, CEO of AP4, at the SWFI’s Institute Fund Summit 2015 conference in Seoul in April, talk about the buffer fund’s approach on becoming a low-carbon institutional investor.

Sovereign wealth funds are gradually playing a bigger role in the green investment world. Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global has made allocations to environmental investment mandates, while funds like the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (NZSF) have made direct investments in companies like Bloom Energy. According to the SWFI’s Sovereign Wealth Fund Transaction Database, even Gulf funds like Mubadala and the China Investment Corporation have made big bets in renewables.

SWFI First Read, January 18, 2018

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Celgene Eyes Juno Therapeutics

Celegene Corporation is in discussions to buy Seattle-based Juno Therapeutics. Juno Therapeutics has backers which include the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation (APFC). Celgene has roughly US$ 12 billion in cash and already has a relationship with Juno Therapeutics.

Auckland International Airport Sells Down Airport Holdings in NQA and Cairns

Perron Investments and The Infrastructure Fund, current investors in North Queensland Airports, which includes Cairns Airport, agreed to acquire Auckland International Airport’s 24.6% stake in the holding entity for A$ 370 million. Perron Investments is the privately-owned investment entity of Australian billionaire Stan Perron.

Pemex and Mitsui in Final Talks on Tula Project

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Apple’s Ginormous Corporate Cash Pile Plans to Come Home

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The positive economic effects of U.S. President Donald Trump’s tax reform have already altered the financial behaviors of major U.S. companies such as Wal-Mart Stores, Apple Inc. and AT&T.

In response to the tax law reform, many American businesses, large-to-small in annual revenues, have issued bonuses, granted awards and signaled plans to increase capital expenditures in the United States. For example, Apple announced plans to give its employees US$ 2,500 each in stock awards. A key section of the new U.S. tax reform law includes a provision for firms to take advantage of a one-time payment of 15.5% on repatriated funds down from the 35% rate.

Initial Plans

With the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) reaching new highs and the tax reform deal signed into law, Apple revealed they would invest US$ 350 billion into the United States economy over a period of five years, as they repatriate massive piles of money from overseas. The iPhone maker estimates they will payout roughly US$ 38 billion in tax payments from the overseas repatriation – thus shifting back some US$ 245 billion out of the US$ 252.3 billion it has held offshore. Apple also plans to spend an estimated US$ 30 billion in capital expenditures over the next five years, with roughly US$ 10 billion in U.S. data centers, according to the company. Apple has plans for 20,000 more jobs to create. The company that was once led by Steve Jobs had faced substantial criticism in the press over outsourcing its manufacturing to China to avoid paying U.S. taxes and lower manufacturing costs. Many of those facilities in China had labor issues such as environmental concerns, slave-like wages and extremely long work hours.

“We believe deeply in the power of American ingenuity, and we are focusing our investments in areas where we can have a direct impact on job creation and job preparedness,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook in a statement on January 17, 2017. He added, “We have a deep sense of responsibility to give back to our country and the people who help make our success possible.”

Liquid Financials and Fixed Income Changes

The sales growth of the iPhone has been a major factor in the growth in Apple’s cash pile. In 2006, Apple moved to act, forming a subsidiary in Nevada to manage investments, initially starting with around US$ 13 billion to manage. Nevada has no corporate income tax and no capital gains tax. Apple manages its investments through an outfit in Reno, Nevada called Braeburn Capital Inc. (Braeburn is a type of Apple), a subsidiary of Apple. Apple also employs some 40 to 50 external fund managers to handle the massive portfolio, according to sources. Braeburn has tried to reduce money management costs by using more separate accounts, while reducing dependence on money market funds.

As of September 30, 2017, Apple has a large investment portfolio worth an excess of US$ 300 billion, with US$ 194.714 billion in long-term marketable securities. Some US$ 128.645 billion are in current assets, with US$ 20.289 billion in cash and cash equivalents.

Focusing on the investment portfolio, some US$ 152.724 billion is held in corporate securities, with US$ 55.245 billion in U.S. Treasuries. Most of the portfolio is held in fixed income investments, including mortgage-backed securities – generally mandating investments be investment-grade and the avoidance of losing principal. Since 2012, Apple has been hoarding more corporate debt, rivaling some bond funds. Only about US$ 799 million are held in mutual funds (non-money market). Apple is also a major buyer of commercial paper across the globe. For example, the company participated in a US$ 500 million issue of 3-year floating notes from Hyundai Capital Services. The tech giant even uses derivatives to hedge against currency and interest rate movements.

The Old Scheme Ends

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CPPIB Partners with Lendlease on £1.5 Billion U.K. Build-to-Rent Venture

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The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) has announced the launch of a £1.5 billion venture with Australian listed construction giant Lendlease Group centered around the development of build-to-rent private housing in the United Kingdom. The new infusion of capital will bolster the £800 million already committed to various projects in the Britain’s housing sector by Lendlease, which will develop, construct, and manage homes built through the partnership.

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