Connect with us

Investment

Political spat over climate risks in investments gets hotter

Published

 on

 

The “E” for environment component of ESG often gets the most attention because of the debate over whether to invest in fossil-fuel companies. In the wide-ranging social, or S, bucket, investors look at how companies treat their workforces, reckoning a happier group with less turnover can be more productive. For the G, or governance aspect, investors make sure companies’ boards keep executives accountable and pay CEOs in a way that incentivizes the best performance for all stakeholders.

The ESG industry has scorekeepers that give companies ratings on their environmental, social and governance performance. Poor scores can steer investors away from companies or governments seen as bigger risks, which can in turn raise their borrowing costs and hurt them financially.

Florida has become one of the hottest battlegrounds for ESG. Gov. Ron DeSantis in August prohibited state fund managers from using ESG considerations as they decide how to invest state pension plan money. And even as his state cleans up from the environmental destruction caused by Hurricane Ian, DeSantis plans to ask the Florida Legislature in 2023 to go even further by prohibiting “discriminatory practices by large financial institutions based on ESG social credit score metrics.”

Pension funds are often caught in the middle of the battles. Questions are flowing into the Florida Education Association from teachers about what DeSantis’ moves will mean for their retirements.

“I usually tell them it’s still unclear what this exactly means,” said Andrew Spar, president of the union, which represents 150,000 teachers and educators across the state. Much is still to be determined, including exactly which funds the pension investments will steer toward.

In contrast, the Minnesota State Board of Investment is considering a proposal to adopt a goal of making its $130 billion in pension and other funds carbon-neutral. The board already uses shareholder votes to advance climate issues. It seeks out climate-friendly investment opportunities and eschews investments in thermal coal. While the new proposal goes farther, it does not call for total divestment from fossil fuel companies, as many climate change activists advocate.

The ESG debate has spilled into the race for Minnesota’s state auditor. Democratic incumbent Julie Blaha — who has singled out DeSantis as one of the leaders she believes are politicizing the discussion about ESG — has cited the investment board’s high returns in recent years as evidence the approach works.

“To be a good fiduciary, you have to consider all the risks, and the evidence is clear that climate risk is investment risk,” Blaha said.

But Blaha’s Republican challenger, Ryan Wilson, says investment returns must come first, and that all risks must be considered. He says the board shouldn’t “disproportionately dictate” that climate risk should matter more than other risks.

Proponents say considering a company’s performance on ESG issues can boost returns and limit losses over the long term while being socially responsible at the same time. By using such a lens, they say investors can avoid companies that are riskier than they appear on the surface, with stock prices that are too high. An ESG approach could also unearth opportunities that may be underappreciated by Wall Street, the thinking goes.

As for returns, there is no consensus on whether an ESG approach means lower or higher returns.

Morningstar, a company that tracks mutual funds and ETFs, says slightly more than half of all sustainable funds ranked in the top half of their category for returns last year. Over five years, the showing is better with nearly three-quarters ranking in the top half of performers in the category.

Rejecting ESG can be costly in ways besides investment performance.

A Texas law that took effect in September 2021 banned municipalities from doing business with financial institutions that have ESG polices against investments in fossil fuel and firearms companies, industries that are important to the Texas economy. It turned out to be an expensive decision.

Barred from underwriting local jurisdictions’ municipal bonds, five big underwriters — JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Bank of America and Fidelity — exited those markets. A Wharton School study estimated that the loss of those big players would cost Texas communities an extra $303 million to $532 million in higher interest payments on their bonds. Fidelity says it has since restored its good standing with Texas by certifying to the state that it does not boycott energy companies or discriminate against the firearms industry.

Several big Wall Street banks and investment management companies have become favorite targets of the anti-ESG politicians because they’ve been outspoken in their embrace of ESG. Republican state treasurers have pulled or plan to pull over $1.5 billion this year out of BlackRock, the world’s largest investment company, which has a goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner. Missouri last month became the latest. Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick accused BlackRock of putting the advancement of “a woke political agenda above the financial interests of their customers.”

Coal-producing West Virginia passed a law in June that allows for the disqualification of banks and other financial institutions from doing business with the state if they “boycott” energy companies. Treasurer Riley Moore soon banned BlackRock, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo, blaming them for contributing to high energy prices by driving capital away from the industry.

“We’re not going to pay for our own destruction,” Moore said.

State officials have also been critical of ESG scores from ratings agencies and other outfits. For instance, S&P Global offended North Dakota State Treasurer Thomas Beadle because it rated the state as “neutral” for social and governance metrics but “moderately negative” for environmental factors because its economy and budget rely heavily on the energy sector.

His state’s lawmakers last year prohibited their investment board from considering “socially responsible criteria” for anything but maximizing returns. Beadle told senators considering potential next steps that ESG has created “significant headwinds” for energy companies trying to raise capital, and that it could affect his state’s tax revenues.

Besides state capitols, other big battlegrounds are federal agencies, where leaders of the backlash include the State Financial Officers Foundation, a group of Republican state treasurers, auditors and other officials. They’re trying to block rules being drafted at the Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Labor to require standardized climate disclosures by companies and to make it easier for pension plan fiduciaries to consider climate change and other ESG factors.

The industry has heard the pushback and has even been surprised by how quickly it’s accelerated. But it’s pledging to plow ahead.

US SIF is an industry group advocating sustainable investing whose members control $5 trillion in assets under management or advisement. Its CEO, Lisa Woll, believes that most of the national and state politicians railing against ESG investing probably don’t understand it.

“If they did, it’s very difficult to make these kinds of allegations,” Woll said.”`It feels more like a talking point than an informed critique.”

Source link

Continue Reading

Investment

Investment regulator imposed $14M in enforcement penalties in latest fiscal year

Published

 on

TORONTO — Canada’s investment product regulator says it imposed more than $14 million in fines and other financial enforcements in its last fiscal year.

The Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization (CIRO) says the total also includes imposed costs and the forced return of ill-gotten profits.

The regulator says it also ordered suspensions and permanent prohibitions in a significant proportion of proceedings against individuals.

Enforcement efforts included a $2 million fine against Fortrade Canada for recommending a high-risk product to unsophisticated retail clients, and a $1.7 million fine and permanent ban on securities-related business against Paul Walker for a range of misconduct including soliciting more than $1.5 million in investments for an outside business activity.

CIRO was created at the start of 2023 through a combination of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada and the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada.

The new self-regulatory organization says it is focused on harmonizing its regulatory approach to create more consistency and timeliness with enforcement action.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 16, 2024.

The Canadian Press

 

728x90x4

Source link

Continue Reading

Investment

Conditions on Simandou investment now satisfied

Published

 on

LONDON, July 15, 2024–(BUSINESS WIRE)–All conditions have now been satisfied for Rio Tinto’s investment to develop the Simandou high-grade iron ore deposit in Guinea, including the completion of necessary Guinean and Chinese regulatory approvals. The transaction is expected to complete during the week of 15 July 2024.

Along with the recent approval by the Board of Simfer1, this allows Simfer to invest in and fund its share of co-developed rail and port infrastructure being progressed in partnership with Winning Consortium Simandou2 (WCS), Baowu and the Republic of Guinea.

More than 600 kilometres of new multi-use trans-Guinean railway together with port facilities will allow the export of up to 120 million tonnes per year of mined iron ore by Simfer and WCS from their respective Simandou mining concessions in the southeast of the country3. Together, this will be the largest greenfield integrated mine and infrastructure investment in Africa.

Rio Tinto Executive Committee lead for Guinea and Copper Chief Executive Bold Baatar said: “We thank the Government of Guinea, Chinalco, Baowu and WCS for their partnership in reaching this milestone towards developing the world class Simandou project.

“Simandou will deliver a significant new source of high-grade iron ore that will strengthen Rio Tinto’s portfolio for the decarbonisation of the steel industry, along with trans-Guinean rail and port infrastructure that can make a significant contribution to the country’s economic development.”

Under the terms of the transaction, Simfer will acquire a participation in the WCS project companies constructing rail and port infrastructure, commit to perform a portion of the construction works itself and commit to funding its share of the overall co-developed infrastructure cost, in an aggregate amount of approximately $6.5 billion (Rio Tinto share approximately $3.5 billion)4.

Chalco Iron Ore Holdings Ltd (CIOH) has now paid its share of capital expenditures incurred or required by Simfer to progress critical works up to completion. A first payment of approximately $410 million, for expenditures until the end of 2023, was made on 28 June 2024, and a second payment of approximately $575 million, for 2024 expenditures, was made on 11 July 2024. These amounts settle all expenditures incurred up to date.

The co-developed infrastructure capacity and associated cost will be shared equally between Simfer, which will develop, own and operate a 60 million tonne per year5 mine in blocks 3 and 4 of the Simandou Project, and WCS, which is developing blocks 1 and 2.

Under the co-development arrangement, Simfer and WCS will deliver separate infrastructure scopes to leverage expertise. Simfer will construct the approximately 70 kilometre Simfer spur rail line and a 60 million tonne per year transhipment vessel (TSV) port, while WCS will construct the dual track approximately 536 kilometre main rail line, the approximately 16 kilometre WCS spur rail line and a 60 million tonne per year barge port.

Once complete, all co-developed infrastructure and rolling stock will be transferred to and operated by the Compagnie du Transguinéen (CTG) joint venture, in which Simfer and WCS each hold a 42.5% equity stake and the Guinean State a 15% equity stake6.

First production from the Simfer mine is expected in 2025, ramping up over 30 months to an annualised capacity of 60 million tonnes per year5 (27 million tonnes Rio Tinto share). The mine will initially deliver a single fines product before transitioning to a dual fines product of blast furnace and direct reduction ready ore.

Simfer’s capital funding requirement for the Simandou project as a whole is estimated to be approximately $11.6 billion, of which Rio Tinto’s share is approximately $6.2 billion, broken down as follows.

US dollars in billions (nominal terms) Simfer

capex

  Rio Tinto
share
Mine and TSVs, owned and operated by Simfer
Development of an initial 60Mt/a mine at Simandou South (blocks 3 & 4), to be constructed by Simfer $5.1 $2.7
Co-developed infrastructure, owned and operated by CTG once complete
Simfer scope (funded 100% by Simfer during construction)

Rail: a 70 km rail-spur from Simfer mine to the mainline, including rolling stock
Port: construction of a 60Mt/a TSV port

$3.5 $1.9
WCS scope (funded 34% by Simfer during construction)

Port and rail infrastructure including an approximately 552 km trans-Guinean heavy haul rail system, comprised of a 536 km mainline and a 16 km WCS rail spur

$3.0 $1.6
Total capital expenditure (nominal terms) $11.6 $6.27

Rio Tinto’s share of expected capital investment remaining to be spent from 1 January 2024 is to be $5.7 billion. Rio Tinto’s expected funding requirements for 2024 and 2025 are included in its share of capital investment guidance for this period, with project funding expected to extend beyond this timeframe.

Further details on the Simandou project can be found in the 2023 Investor Seminar presentation at https://www.riotinto.com/en/invest/investor-seminars.

As Chinalco, Baowu, China Rail Construction Corporation and China Harbour Engineering Company are Chinese state-owned entities, and given Chinalco indirectly holds 11.2% of shares in the Rio Tinto Group, they, and WCS, may be considered to be associates of a related party of Rio Tinto for the purpose of the UK Listing Rules. Rio Tinto’s funding commitment pursuant to the infrastructure co-development arrangement (Rio Tinto share $3.5bn) is a smaller related party transaction for the purposes of Listing Rule 11.1.10R and this announcement is, therefore, made in accordance with Listing Rule 11.1.10R(2)(c).

___________________________
1 Approval has been granted by the Board of Simfer Jersey Limited, a joint venture between the Rio Tinto Group (53%) and Chalco Iron Ore Holdings Ltd (CIOH) (47%), a Chinalco-led joint venture of leading Chinese SOEs (Chinalco (75%), Baowu (20%), China Rail Construction Corporation (2.5%) and China Harbour Engineering Company (2.5%)). Simfer Infraco Guinée S.A.U. will deliver Simfer Jersey’s scope of the co-developed rail and port infrastructure, and is, on the date of this notice, a wholly-owned indirect subsidiary of Simfer Jersey Limited, but will be co-owned by the Guinean State (15%) after closing of the co-development arrangements. Simfer S.A. is the holder of the mining concession covering Simandou Blocks 3 & 4, and is owned by the Guinean State (15%) and Simfer Jersey Limited (85%).
2 WCS is the holder of Simandou North Blocks 1 & 2 (with the Government of Guinea holding a 15% interest in the mining vehicle and WCS holding 85%) and associated infrastructure. WCS was originally held by WCS Holdings, a consortium of Singaporean company, Winning International Group (50%) and Weiqiao Aluminium (part of the China Hongqiao Group) (50%). On 19 June 2024, Baowu Resources completed the acquisition of a 49% share of WCS mine and infrastructure projects with WCS Holdings holding the remaining 51%. In the case of the mine, Baowu also has an option to increase to 51% during operations. After Closing, Simfer will hold 34% of the shares in the WCS infrastructure entities during construction with WCS holding the remaining 66%.
3 WCS holds the mining concession for Blocks 1 and 2, while Simfer S.A. holds the mining concession for blocks 3 and 4. Simfer and WCS will independently develop their mines.
4 A true-up mechanism will apply between Simfer and WCS to equalise most of their costs of constructing the co-developed rail and port infrastructure. The figures shown here are pre-equalisation.
5 The estimated annualised capacity of approximately 60 million dry tonnes per annum iron ore for the Simandou life of mine schedule was previously reported in a release to the Australian Securities Exchange dated 6 December 2023 titled “Simandou iron ore project update“. Rio Tinto confirms that all material assumptions underpinning that production target continue to apply and have not materially changed.
6 Ownership of the rail and port infrastructure will transfer from CTG to the Guinean State after a 35 year Operations Period, with Simfer retaining access rights on a non-discriminatory basis and at least equivalent to all Third Party Users.
7 By the end of 2023, Rio Tinto spent $0.5 billion (Rio Tinto share) to progress critical path works. Rio Tinto’s share of expected capital investment remaining to be spent from 1 January 2024 was $5.7 billion.

This announcement is authorised for release to the market by Andy Hodges, Rio Tinto’s Group Company Secretary.

View source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20240621382292/en/

Contacts

Please direct all enquiries to media.enquiries@riotinto.com

Media Relations,
United Kingdom
Matthew Klar
M +44 7796 630 637
David Outhwaite
M +44 7787 597 493

Media Relations,
Australia

Matt Chambers
M +61 433 525 739
Jesse Riseborough
M +61 436 653 412
Alyesha Anderson
M +61 434 868 118
Michelle Lee
M +61 458 609 322

Media Relations,
Americas

Simon Letendre
M +1 514 796 4973
Malika Cherry
M +1 418 592 7293
Vanessa Damha
M +1 514 715 2152

Investor Relations,
United Kingdom
David Ovington
M +44 7920 010 978
Laura Brooks
M +44 7826 942 797

Investor Relations,
Australia

Tom Gallop
M +61 439 353 948
Amar Jambaa
M +61 472 865 948

Rio Tinto plc
6 St James’s Square
London SW1Y 4AD
United Kingdom
T +44 20 7781 2000
Registered in England
No. 719885

Rio Tinto Limited
Level 43, 120 Collins Street
Melbourne 3000
Australia
T +61 3 9283 3333
Registered in Australia
ABN 96 004 458 404

riotinto.com

Category: Simandou

 

728x90x4

Source link

Continue Reading

Investment

BlackRock Pulls Ad Featuring Trump Rally Shooter Thomas Matthew Crooks

Published

 on

A screengrab of Thomas Crooks from the BlackRock ad that aired in 2022.

Thomas Matthew Crooks, the 20-year-old who shot at former president Donald Trump at a rally in Pennsylvania, had briefly appeared in a 2022 advertisement for BlackRock Inc, the world’s largest money manager.

The ad, filmed at the Bethel Park High School in Pennsylvania, featured Crooks and several other unpaid students in the background, said the investment giant in a statement. Crooks graduated from the school in 2022.

BlackRock said it has pulled the ad but the video will be available to authorities. The ad, however, is being widely shared by social media users.

“The assassination attempt on former President Trump is abhorrent. We’re thankful former President Trump wasn’t seriously injured, and thinking about all the innocent bystanders and victims of this awful act, especially the person who was killed,” the company added in its statement.

window._rrCode = window._rrCode || [];_rrCode.push(function(){ (function(v,d,o,ai){ai=d.createElement(“script”);ai.defer=true;ai.async=true;ai.src=v.location.protocol+o;d.head.appendChild(ai);})(window, document, “//a.vdo.ai/core/v-ndtv/vdo.ai.js”); });

BlackRock, whose earnings figures are expected today, has faced scrutiny after shooting incidents since some of its index funds own shares in gunmakers.

Trump Assassination Attempt

Trump survived an assassination attempt on Saturday after a gunman opened fire at him at a rally in Pennsylvania ahead of the Presidential elections. The attack left him with a bloodied face as the former president said the bullet pierced his “upper part of right ear”.

Latest and Breaking News on NDTV

A bystander died in the attack while shielding his family and Crooks – a registered Republican – was shot dead by a Secret Service sniper.

Trump, whose Republican candidature will be finalised today, shared a message of unity after the attack and said Americans must not allow “evil to win”. “It was God alone who prevented the unthinkable from happening,” he said on social media.

Biden, too, appealed to the nation to “lower the political temperature” in a rare Oval Office address. “Politics must never be a literal battlefield, God forbid a killing field,” he said.

The US markets are expecting Trump trades to gain momentum after the attack. It has already been pinning hopes for the return of Republicans, especially after Biden’s poor performance in last month’s debate. Those trades are likely to take deeper hold as the attack sparks a wave of sympathy and support for Trump.

728x90x4

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending