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Exclusive: Five groups ousted from U.N.-backed responsible investment list – The Guardian



By Simon Jessop

LONDON (Reuters) – Five investors have been removed from the United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment, in the first such move by the group for those failing to meet its minimum requirements.

The PRI has amassed more than 3,000 signatories managing in excess of $100 trillion in assets since it was launched in 2006 and membership is increasingly seen as crucial for asset managers pitching for mandates from pension schemes.

But the PRI, whose members were told in 2018 they had two years to reach a new set of minimum requirements, said on Monday four asset managers and one asset owner would be delisted.

BPE, the private banking arm of France’s La Banque Postale, is the largest, with assets the PRI put at around $5 billion.

Stichting Gemeenschappelijk Beleggingsfonds FNV (GFB) which is part of the biggest Dutch labour union, Indonesia’s Corfina Capital, U.S.-based Primary Wave IP Investment Management and French-based Delta Alternative Management, which reported assets of between $40 million to $310 million, were also removed, the PRI said.

BPE said in a statement that, for legal reasons, it had not been able to comply with one of the six fundamental principles of the PRI, regarding discretionary management, but was “currently working on resolving this legal constraint in order to once again adhere to (the) PRI.”

A spokeswoman for GFB was “very disappointed” by the PRI’s decision.

The GFB holds a small part of the overall capital of the FNV union and the costs of meeting the new requirements exceeded the benefits, the spokeswoman said, adding that the majority of FNV’s capital is managed separately and will still be listed.

A spokesman for Delta Alternative Management declined to comment. The two other firms did not respond to requests for comment from Reuters.

The delistings follow criticism in recent years that the PRI was not doing enough to ensure members lived up to the principles, including to embed environmental, social and governance-related issues in their investment decision-making.

“We had signatories who just weren’t doing enough, and were very much there for the marketing,” PRI Chief Executive Fiona Reynolds told Reuters. “They were sort of riding on the brand and riding on what other signatories were doing.”

This first round of exclusions may not satisfy all its critics given it affects mainly small firms, while some much larger signatories are being challenged for perceived inaction when engaging with companies on climate change.


The new standards require members to have a responsible investment policy covering at least half of all managed assets, staff responsible for implementing it and senior-level oversight.

The PRI did not say which standard the delisted firms failed.

At the start of the process, 165 PRI members were warned they did not meet the new criteria, although most improved over the course of the two years.

“I think this was a bit of a wake-up call to some people … ‘I can’t just sit here now; they’re actually upping the game and they’re taking this more seriously and I’d better get my act together’,” Reynolds said.

Of those firms originally warned, 23 chose to delist themselves for a variety of reasons, while four disputed the evidence that they had failed to meet the new requirements and successfully appealed, the PRI said, without naming them.

The PRI said it now plans to toughen membership requirements further and will launch a consultation at a meeting on Oct. 21.

Proposed changes include requiring firms’ responsible investment policies to cover 90% of assets and making that policy public. Engagement and voting would also be made mandatory for those managing equities.

(Additional reporting by Ross Kerber in Boston, Lawrence Delevingne in New York, Toby Sterling in Amsterdam and Maya Nikolaeva in Paris; Editing by Rachel Armstrong and Alexander Smith)

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Defying expectations, global VC investment rose in Q3 – Wealth Professional



In 2020, VC-backed exit activity has so far surged to nearly US$250 billion; Q3 alone saw that activity reach US$155.7 billion as IPOs from Snowflake, JFrog, and Unity Software pushed through. That represents another quarter-on-quarter advance, coming right after the US$49.2-billion record in Q2 2020.

“After several quiet quarters, the IPO market for VC-backed companies rocketed into high gear in Q3’20, with a number of high-profile unicorns making successful exits,” said Conor Moore, Co-Leader, KPMG Private Enterprise Emerging Giants Network KPMG International. “Given the recent filings by several other unicorns, coupled with the explosion of SPAC transactions, Q4’20 looks on-track to continue the record-setting pace.”

While total investment is on an upswing, KPMG said VC deal activity extended its losing streak, dropping for the sixth straight quarter to reflect the lowest volume reported since Q4 2013. The number of global angel/seed-stage deals fell to 1,650, the lowest since Q4 2012; global early-stage deal volume (1,716) likewise descended to its deepest since Q2 2014.

Against the VC landscape’s transformation amid COVID-19, pharma and biotech proved to be hotbeds of VC investment in Q3 2020, led by a US$600-million raise by CureVac in Germany. By the end of the quarter, total year-to-date VC investment in the space had reached US$31 billion, comfortably above the US$27.1 billion it reported for all of 2019.

“While overall VC investment has remained surprisingly resilient given the number of diverse challenges being faced around the globe, the extended decline in funding for early stage companies causes some concern,” said Kevin Smith, co-leader, KPMG Private Enterprise Emerging Giants Network, KPMG International.

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Digital Technology Supercluster makes $10 million investment, rounding out $60 million COVID-19 program – BetaKit



The Digital Technology Supercluster has made $10.7 million in follow-on investments to five projects under its COVID-19 stream, rounding out the Supercluster’s $60 million budget for the pandemic-focused program.

Bill Tam said these latest follow-on investments are a testament to the Supercluster model.

The COVID-19 program was created at the beginning of the pandemic to invest in digital solutions that protect the Canadian economy as well as public health. The creation of the program followed a decision in March from the federal government to refocus some of the Superclusters in order to help in the fight against the pandemic.

The COVID program’s $60 million came from the Digital Technology Supercluster’s $153 million budget.

The $10.7 million in follow-on investments come as a recent report from the parliamentary budget officer found that the Superclusters were far behind on their spending goals as of March 6. The report found the federal government’s five Superclusters had dolled out just $30 million instead of the $104 million they had been projected to spend by that time.

Bill Tam, co-founder and chief operating officer of the Digital Technology Supercluster, emphasized that the reporting conducted by the parliamentary budget officer did not capture the Supercluster’s momentum since March.

Tam claimed that, since March, the Digital Technology Supercluster has already completed its entire year’s worth of investments.

According to targets the Supercluster shared with BetaKit, the Supercluster was set to have about $170 million deployed by both itself and private sector partners, into 40 to 45 projects.

As of October 21, the Supercluster and its private sector partners have invested a collective $223 million in 67 projects since the inception of the initiative, according to the Supercluster’s annual report. Tam said he expects the Supercluster will have fully invested its $153 million budget by March 2021.

RELATED: Supercluster funding $74 million behind schedule, according to new PBO report

“I think the grand experiment of the Supercluster model is working,” Tam said, noting that the Supercluster’s ability to double down on these collaborations presents an opportunity to change the shape of Canada’s innovation economy.

The five projects that received the cumulative $10.7 million have previously received financial support from the Supercluster under its COVID-19 program as “feasibility studies.”

“Our follow on investment thesis is really about being able to double down.”

Tam told BetaKit the feasibility studies allowed the project organizers to determine whether a technology or innovative idea is appropriate for a large-scale project with the intention of developing an application for co-investment.

“We have feasibility assessment vehicles in order for these teams to actually have a sandbox with which to collaborate on initiatives,” Tam said. “Our follow on investment thesis is really about being able to double down.”

The projects receiving follow-on funding include:

COVID Cloud: $3.18 million

Originally called Beacon, this project is developing a digital technology platform to help track how SARS-CoV-2 is evolving over time and across specific geographic regions. The project’s initial investment from the Supercluster totalled $250,000.

Lifesaver: $2.85 million

This project aims to fill COVID-19 information gaps by consolidating and harmonizing vast arrays of data. Lifesaver’s initial investment from the Supercluster totalled $250,000.

Raven2: $1.62 million

Raven2 extends the scope of the team’s original work by finding new, safe COVID-19 therapeutics that could be sold commercially in Canada and worldwide. The project’s initial investment from the Supercluster was $250,000.

Scaling Safe Food Delivery for Canadians

This project will see startup Food-X Technologies develop an e-grocery solution that aims to help retailers offer online grocery sales at scale. The project’s initial investment from the Supercluster totalled $250,000.

Screen O/S: $450,000

This project is focused on improving COVID-19 screening for the education sector and film industry after a successful two-month assessment of their on-the-spot screening technology. The project’s initial investment from the Supercluster was $87,000.

Tam said although the program’s COVID-19 budget has been fully deployed, there is still an opportunity for follow-on investment from the Supercluster’s broader $153 million budget. All projects that receive investments from the Supercluster are able to receive follow-on funding, including those not part of the COVID-19 program.

Image source Unsplash. Photo by Christina @

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Amazon announces $100 million logistics investment in Mexico –



By Daina Beth Solomon

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Inc said on Thursday it has invested $100 million in opening new warehouses in Mexico, including its first shipping centers outside the populous capital area, in a bid to offer faster deliveries.

The new sites include two so-called fulfillment centers – one near the northern city of Monterrey and another near the central city of Guadalajara – as well as a support building in the State of Mexico, just outside Mexico City.

Amazon also opened 12 delivery stations, bringing its total to 27 across the country, it said.

“The construction of a solid infrastructure network allows the company to stay closer than ever to clients, and thanks to that, it’s possible to offer fast deliveries,” Amazon said in a statement.

Monterrey and Guadalajara are the two biggest metropolitan zones of the country after the sprawling Mexico City area.

The new facilities represent 69,000 square meters (742,710 sq ft) altogether and create 1,500 direct and indirect jobs, Amazon said.

Amazon in total now runs five fulfillment centers, two support buildings and two classification centers in Mexico, where it launched its marketplace in 2015.

Enrique Alfaro, the governor of Jalisco state that is home to Guadalajara, said the new local warehouse would help more small and medium sized businesses ship their products faster and at lower costs.

Amazon is also striving to make inroads in Brazil, where it recently opened its fifth and biggest fulfillment center in the country, with 100,000 square meters (1,076,391 sq ft).

In both countries, which are the biggest economies in Latin America, Amazon is vying with local rivals for shopper loyalty, despite its ranking as the world’s biggest online retailer.

(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)

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