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Protectionism may harm fragile economies, say top SWFs



According to Business 24-7, “Protectionist barriers aimed at capital-rich sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) could backfire on the fragile global economy, top executives of major state investment firms warned yesterday. The sovereign funds have the capital needed by affected economies to recover from the global crisis but governments may come under domestic pressure to impose protectionist measures, they said. Tony Tan, Deputy Chairman of the Government of Singapore Investment Corp (GIC), said the biggest danger facing the world economy in coming years is protectionist sentiment, which may be stoked by high unemployment rates. Tan, speaking at a business forum on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific summit, said protectionism could spread from the trade arena to financial markets.

“This could manifest itself in the form of protectionist measures not only in world trade but also in financial markets and impede the free flow of funds,” he said.

“If nothing else, this could derail the global economic recovery which all of us are hoping for,” said the GIC deputy chairman.

Jin Liqun, from the China Investment Corporation (CIC), also cautioned against barring investments from government-owned funds. “The sovereign wealth funds will be playing a big role in rebalancing the process but we need co-operation from the recipient countries,” said Jin, CIC’s chairman of the board of supervisors.

“There’s nothing we can do if we are barred from doing our jobs in your countries or when hurdles are very high for us to overcome,” he said.

Jin said sovereign funds can play a major role in restructuring economies.

“Countries need a cushion in undertaking major economic restructuring and provisional funding is of course crucial,” he said, adding that the global recovery was not irreversible.

When the global crisis unfolded, SWFs emerged as a source of crucial capital, especially to Western financial firms and banks in dire need of fresh funding. Singapore’s GIC, which manages the city-state’s reserves of more than $100 billion (Dh367bn), was one of the rescuers of US-based Citigroup and Swiss banking giant UBS. Kuwait Investment Authority’s (KIA) Managing Director Bader Al Saad told the forum that SWFs have collectively pumped $90bn into financial institutions in the last few years.

“I think now we are in a new era of engagement,” said Al Saad.

“There is a unique opportunity for the sovereign wealth funds to represent themselves as investors in the world… They are a long-term investor,” he said.

Al Saad also said perceptions that SWFs were a source of destabilisation in financial markets and that investments were driven by political agendas could not be further from the truth.

“Most of their transactions are cash transactions so there is a real economy and it shows that they are responsible investors,” he said.

“They are a source of stability and last but not least, they are strategic investors… On top of that, they never make hostile takeovers.””

read more: Business 24-7

Mubadala Invests in No Fly Zone Drone Radar Company



Data Collective led a US$ 15 million Series A round into Salt Lake City-based Fortem Technologies, Inc., a company that works on solutions that can detect, identify and classify drones in real time to maintain airspace safety. Other investors in the round include Boeing, Mubadala Investment Company, Manifest Growth, New Ground Ventures and Signia Venture Partners.

Ibrahim Ajami, Head of Mubadala Ventures said in the press release, ” Mubadala is excited to work with Fortem and its outstanding leadership team to help grow its business to new markets.”

Ajami added, “We strongly believe the TrueView radar is essential to maintain a safe airspace for both the aircraft and the critical infrastructure on the ground.”

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Ireland and China to Open New €150 Milllion Joint Tech Fund



The Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) and CIC Capital Corporation – a sovereign wealth enterprise (SWE) of the China Investment Corporation – announced the formation of a joint €150 million fund targeting high-growth Irish technology firms looking to expand into Chinese markets, as well as a special emphasis on Chinese companies hoping to set up shop in Ireland as a base for their European operations.

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How ESG Considerations Can Drive Voting at the Board Level



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.

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