Top Stories

March 20, 2017

Responsible Investment

JP Morgan AM creates sustainable investing team

JP Morgan Asset Management has formed a leadership team to create a sustainable investing strategy and help clients achieve their environmental, social and government investment goals. Called the Sustainable Investment Leadership Team (SILT), it combines senior leaders, portfolio managers and client advisers at JP Morgan AM and will be led by Jamie Kramer, head of strategic product management and environmental, social and government (ESG) lead for global investment management. It comes as JP Morgan AM has launched a Europe Sustainable Equity fund, which will try to seek out attractively valued European companies whose governance fosters a long-term sustainability view. The fund is benchmarked to the MSCI Europe Index and managed by portfolio managers Richard Webb, Joanna Crompton and William Johnson. Over time, our intention is to use targeted engagement… to help companies improve standards and practices to become more sustainable and ultimately create more value for shareholders, stakeholders and wider society’ said Richard Webb. (CityWire)


Study reveals 48m Twitter accounts are actually bots

study released by the University of Southern California reports that roughly nine to 15 percent of Twitter accounts on the microblogging website are so-called bots controlled by software instead of humans. This recent revelation equates to nearly 48 million bot accounts, according to the university’s high-end figure. Those bots are capable of interactions such as “likes,” “retweets” and “following.” A spokesperson from Twitter told CNBC that while bots may have negative connotations, “many bot accounts are extremely beneficial, like those that automatically alert people of natural disasters …or from customer service points of view.” Researchers point out that the bots also “perform useful social functions such as dissemination of news and publications and coordination of volunteer activities” – but there’s a dark side, too, as they can support “malicious applications” like promoting terrorist propaganda and recruitment. Researchers reported in the science journal First Monday that Twitter bot accounts produced 3.8 million tweets, or 19 percent of all election tweets for the study’s period between Sept. 16 and Oct. 21, 2016. (CBS)


City of London pushes for lower taxes to sweeten Brexit pill

Finance chiefs in London are preparing a fresh round of lobbying for lower taxes and looser regulation to sugar the pill of Brexit and maintain Britain’s appeal in the global competition between financial centres. Mark Hoban, a former Treasury minister, has been asked by TheCityUK to work with his former employers PwC to produce a report entitled “Vision 2025” examining ways to enhance the UK financial services industry after Brexit. Executives met last week to thrash out ideas, which include making skilled immigration easier, particularly to encourage the development of the financial technology “fintech” sector, and regional supervisory offices. Anthony Browne, head of the British Bankers’ Association, called on the government to “normalise” bank taxation, by scrapping the levy and corporation tax surcharge that are due to raise £23.4bn from the sector over six years. “if you want to become more attractive as a global financial centre then having a range of bank-specific taxes is not a good way to go about it,” he said. (Financial Times)*

Corporate Reputation

Brazil raids food giants for allegedly selling rotten meat

Two of the largest meat producers JBS and BRF, both of which sell meat around the world, were among the companies caught up in the massive raid launched by Brazil’s federal police which claimed they unearthed more than 30 instances of meatpackers paying bribes. Police said 1,100 agents were involved in the “Operation Weak Flesh” raids. They served 309 court orders, 194 search warrants, 27 detentions and 77 police interrogations. Police said among those arrested were two JBS employees and three BRF employees. JBS, the biggest meat processer in the world, said in a filing that none of its executives were singled out in the investigation and it also reinforced that the employee questioned in this matter played no strategic role in product quality or any verification processes. BRF said it also complied with all of the standards and regulations required by law. The raids were a culmination of a two-year investigation. (CNN)


British tampons and nappies set to fuel power stations

One of the UK’s trickiest waste problems is being tackled by turning the undesirable into the combustible – tampons and incontinence pads are being converted into dry, burnable bales. The process is being analysed by experts from the University of Birmingham, who will report on how environmentally friendly the new process is in practice, compared to landfill or wet incineration.  The PHS plant in the West Midlands began testing the new process last year, but on Monday it announced it has moved to commercial-scale operation, currently 15% of all the waste it receives. The company aims to turn all the 45,000 tonnes of absorbent hygiene products it handles into bales by the end of 2017. Disposable nappies are already a huge waste disposal challenge, with 3bn a year being thrown away in the UK. One challenge is collecting such waste from homes, but the charity Zero Waste Scotland recently ran a successful trial of kerbside collections of absorbent hygiene product. (Edie)

*Requires subscription

Image source: London – The Gherkin & Canary Wharf by Harshil Shah at FlickAttribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)