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January 31, 2017

Inclusive Business

Goldman CEO takes lead on Wall Street in slamming Trump travel ban

Goldman Sachs Group Inc Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein became the first major Wall Street leader to speak out against President Donald Trump’s order to halt arrivals from several Muslim-majority countries. In a voicemail to employees on Sunday, Blankfein said diversity was a hallmark of Goldman’s success, and if the temporary freeze became permanent, it could create “disruption” for the bank and its staff. In Silicon Valley, the heads of companies such as Apple and Facebook swiftly denounced Trump’s immigration ban. But the rest of corporate America has been more circumspect in speaking out, underscoring the sensitivities around opposing policies that could provoke a backlash from the White House. BlackRock, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo are reviewing and monitoring the order. After Goldman Sachs was embroiled in scandals over its mortgage-market bets, CEO Blackfein has promoted its focus on philanthropy and diversity initiatives, as well as Goldman’s role in job creation. (Reuters)


Lidl aims to donate two million meals through Neighbourly partnership

Lidl has become the latest supermarket chain to commit to surplus food donation in the UK through social media platform Neighbourly. The Neighbourly initiative is designed to help communities connect with companies through local charitable, environmental and social enterprise projects. Lidl has launched a national food distribution programme, which it hopes will enable all of its British stores to collectively donate the equivalent of two million meals a year to charities. The first 100 Lidl stores will be fully active by the end of June, with an ambition to have all stores participating by summer 2018. “This new partnership provides a great opportunity for us to make a real, positive contribution to the communities that we operate in,” Lidl UK head of corporate social responsibility Daniela Tulip said. The German supermarket has also become the first retailer to sign up to Neighbourly’s #FundaFridge Campaign, donating more than 100 fridges and freezers to projects that struggle with storage for the food donations that they receive. (Edie)

Renewable Energy

China builds world’s biggest solar farm in journey to become green superpower

Longyanxia solar farm has now the capacity to produce a massive 850MW of power – enough to supply up to 200,000 households – and stands on the front line of a global photovoltaic revolution being spearheaded by a country that is also the world’s greatest polluter. By 2020 China – which is now the world’s top clean energy investor – hopes to be producing 110GW of solar power and 210GW of wind power as part of an ambitious plan to slash pollution and emissions. By 2030, China has pledged to increase the amount of energy coming from non-fossil fuels to 20% of the total. A recent report captured how China was already dominating the global clean energy market, pointing to billions of recent investments in renewables in countries such as Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam. However, Zhang Junjie, an environmental expert from Duke Kunshan University believes tightening regulations on greenhouse gas emissions further would inflict “major trouble” on China’s manufacturing sector. (Guardian)


AkzoNobel to partner with startups to solve packaging challenges

Global paints, coatings and specialty chemicals company AkzoNobel is launching Imagine Chemistry, an opportunity to partner with startup firms, students, research groups and career scientists from across the world to jointly exploit their knowledge of chemistry and solve several real-life chemistry-related challenges. It will focus on finding solutions within specific areas, such as wastewater-free chemical sites and natural alternatives to synthetics. In addition, there are “open challenges” for broad ideas in two further areas: highly reactive chemistry and technology, and sustainable alternatives to current technologies. A dedicated online challenge platform has been launched, operated by KPMG, where participants can submit their ideas and solutions. Anyone who registers will get feedback from AkzoNobel chemical experts. All challenges are business-driven and should go commercial within a three-to-five-year period. “Our world is made of molecules and we believe that chemistry, mastering the elements, is essential to making the world a better place,” explained Peter Nieuwenhuizen, RD&I Director for AkzoNobel’s Specialty Chemicals business. (Sustainable Brands)

Corporate Reputation

Former HBOS manager found guilty of corruption and fraud

Six people, including two former HBOS bankers, have been found guilty of bribery and fraud that cost the bank’s business customers and shareholders hundreds of millions of pounds. Lynden Scourfield, a former manager with HBOS, pleaded guilty to six counts including corruption. Five other defendants, including so-called turnaround consultants, were also convicted who will be sentenced on Thursday. The CPS special prosecutor, Stephen Rowland, said the case was one of the largest and most complex the special fraud division had ever prosecuted. “It involved millions of documents, a lot of the material we had to look at was electronic and of course in this day and age the capacity for electronic media is huge,” he said. The bank, which was rescued by Lloyds Banking Group during the financial crisis, internally estimated the cost of Scourfield’s lending activity as more than £300m in early 2007. However, that figure excludes further losses crystallised since that date and huge losses to business customers. Sources close to the investigation say the total value of the fraud may be closer to £1bn. (BBC)

Image source: Windorah’s Solar Farm dishes taken from the roadside (Diamantina Developmental Road) on a hot summer day. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.