AUSTIN, Texas Officials at the Texas Employees Retirement System are being encouraged to think twice about divesting any Iran-related investments. Texas state Rep. Vicki Truitt, chair of the House Committee on Pensions and Investments, sent a letter Nov. 26 to Bill Ceverha, chairman of the board of the $24 billion fund, urging him and other board members to continue making prudent policy decisions for the exclusive benefit of the members, and not allow external pressures and demands to affect your decision-making. The letter was in response to a Sept. 25 letter Gov. Rick Perry sent to officials of the ERS and the $111 billion Texas Teacher Retirement System, Austin, asking them to divest all stocks of companies doing business with Iran.
Ms. Truitt, in her letter, argued that any attempt to alter the optimum investment strategy recommended by the systems investment professionals (is) especially troublesome, and any use of the assets of the trust for purposes other than those that will benefit the members, risks violating the Texas constitution, endangers the systems tax-exempt status, and potentially breaches the boards fiduciary duties as trustees.
SRI has little impact on return, survey finds
NORWALK, Conn. Socially responsible investment policies improve corporate behavior but dont necessarily improve investment return or limit investment risk, according to a survey of institutional investors by fund of funds EACM Advisors.
Respondents didnt think (SRI) would hurt return, said Mike Dunn, spokesman.
The survey results reflect the tension between the need to operate in an SRI-compliant way and their fiduciary consideration for return, said Bill Crerend, CEO of EACM Advisors. It is still a challenge to marry (SRI policies) with what youd do in mainstream investment management process.
Respondents reported 9-to-1 that their SRI policies improve corporate behavior. And by more than 2-to-1, respondents indicated they use avoidance screening: Stocks of tobacco companies, followed by pornography and adult entertainment, were singled out by respondents as the top two categories to avoid.
Organizations using positive screening indicated their top two types of investments were companies with good human rights records and those with good environmental policies.
The survey, conducted in October, analyzed the results of more than 200 respondents from foundations, endowments and non-tax-exempt organizations.
Mercer to study ESG influence on emerging markets
WASHINGTON International Finance Corp. hired Mercer to do a study on the degree to which environmental, social and corporate governance factors are included in choosing emerging market investments, confirmed Lucie Giraud, spokeswoman for IFC.
The survey will enable Mercer to integrate ESG analysis within fundamental manager research, sending a message to the market that this integration is both important and relevant, Helga Birgden, Mercers head of responsible investment for Asia Pacific, said in a press release.
The one-year project will comprise three components: a global survey of equity managers operating in emerging markets, looking at their approaches to ESG factors; a review of mainstream equity managers in Brazil, China, India and South Korea, looking at how they are considering ESG risks or opportunities; and an assessment of sustainable investment emerging market fund products.
New SSgA strategy targets climate change
BOSTON SSgA introduced an institutional strategy investing in companies that can capitalize on opportunities related to climate change. SSgAs global environmental opportunities strategy will invest globally, focusing on large companies working in areas such as clean fuels and efficient transport as well as smaller companies working on cutting-edge environmental technologies.