Top Stories

February 07, 2017


Standard Life investment chief calls for corporate pay curbs

According to one of the City’s top fund managers executive pay is already ‘too high’ and investors are ready to take a hard line with firms that propose plans to boost bosses’ remuneration. David Cumming, Head of Equities at Standard Life, said his firm ‘could not justify’ pay increasing and investors must do more to signal their unhappiness. These complaints have come after UK Prime Minister Theresa May said corporate pay was excessive, and issued a green paper with ideas to curb it. Despite this, Mr Cummings told the BBC that ‘we continue to see too many proposals that would bring a substantial increase in pay.’ Last month, 13 of the City’s top fund managers met to discuss the issue. Previously shareholders have been unable to speak with a single voice, but this time it is expected that there will be a united front. Mr Cummings expressed fear in the event that shareholder activism does not succeed in curbing pay, saying ‘if we do not succeed, then we might have much more draconian action from the government, which would be less flexible and worse overall for the shareholders.’ (BBC)


Super Bowl ads trolling Trump: ‘The world is more beautiful the more you accept’

The 2017 Super Bowl was host to advertisements portraying acceptance, diversity, equality and immigration, all of which have caused a stir towards the president of the US. Despite Fox and NFL aiming to avoid explicitly political adverts during the broadcast, several companies including Coca-Cola, were seen to be trolling Trump – particularly his policies. Coca-Cola chose a message of acceptance, resurrecting their advert form the 2014 Super Bowl that shows a multilingual rendition of America The Beautiful. In a statement, the company said the advert ‘promotes optimism, inclusion and celebrates humanity.’ Airbnb chose a more obvious political stance with its #weaccept campaign which was aimed at the president’s bid to close borders to refugees as well as citizens of seven predominately Muslim countries. The text over the advertisement’s images read ‘We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love, or who you worship, we all belong.’ Airbnb has previously announced it will provide short term housing for 100,000 people in need over the next five years and contribute $4m to the International Refugee Assistance Project. (The Guardian)


23 EU countries are breaking European air quality laws

Air pollution is the single largest environmental cause of premature death in urban Europe and transport is the main source. According to the European Commission air quality laws are being flaunted in more than 130 cities across 23 of the 28 EU member states. ‘The Commission remains concerned about the overall pace of progress in achieving the limit values set by the EU legislation in member states’ the executive said in a communication published yesterday. The 2008 Air Quality Directive, now under review, obliges member states to cut exposure to fine particulate matter by an average of 20% by 2020.  However, over the last two years, the Commission has launched legal action against 12 member states for failing to enforce the air quality standards for NO2 (Nitrogen dioxide). Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal and the UK all face possible fines. Environmental campaigners in Britain won a High Court battle with the British government over its failure to reach the standards last year. Similar lawsuits like this are expected to occur across the EU. (Edie)


SC Johnson’s latest initiative aims to save the Amazon rainforest

SC Johnson has partnered with Conservation International (CI) to protect the Amazon rainforest. SC Johnson Chairman and CEO Fisk Johnson have said in a statement ’the Amazon rainforest provides a wealth of ecosystem services that are critical for the sustenance of life on this planet…everything from fresh water and fresh air, to carbon sequestration and extraordinary biodiversity.’ CI’s film ‘Under the Canopy’ was recently previewed at the Sundance Film Festival, allowing viewers to experience the wonder of the Amazon in a 360 degrees virtual reality tour. The film highlights the need of the Amazon to thrive, from its role as the largest watershed to the fact that its trees absorb carbon and help regulate climate. SC Johnson says it will match every acre saved – up to 5,000 – on the CI’s donation page. This partnership represents the latest effort by SC Johnson to achieve its ambition of net zero deforestation through 2020 by using sustainable sourcing of paper and packaging. SC Johnson has already cut greenhouse gas emissions by 51.7% and 1/3 of SC Johnson production sites hold a zero landfill status.  (Environmental Leader)

Corporate Reputation

Tyson Foods discloses SEC probe tied to chicken pricing

Tyson Foods, the largest producer of meat in the US, on Monday disclosed a new federal investigation started by private lawsuits who accused the company of manipulating chicken prices. The Securities and Exchange Commission have been carrying out the investigation which suggests Tyson and more than 20 other chicken produces, including Koch Foods and Pilgrim’s Pride, have used market manipulation to keep prices artificially high. Tyson’s disclosure represents the initial public indication that federal authorities are examining the allegations but the Securities and Exchange Commission declined to comment. The price rigging allegations have also sparked a series of investor lawsuits that accused the company of issuing periodic public filings that consisted of false or misleading statements about Tyson’s financial condition. Those cases have been sent to an Arkansas federal court for consolidation. (US Today)

Image source: Mount Rushmore National Memorial at Wikipedia.  Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.