Category : Stock Market

(FT) Shell faces push from shareholders, among whom is the Church of England, on climate change goals

…climate activists are disputing Shell’s claim that its goal is in line with the Paris agreement — the 2015 international pact aimed at limiting global temperature rises to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels.

“The ambitions announced by Shell are inconsistent with the Paris agreement, in particular when taking into account expected global energy demand growth,” said Mark van Baal of Follow This, the shareholder group that has submitted a resolution calling for more aggressive targets.

Activists point to forecasts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the International Energy Agency, which advise governments on climate change and energy policy, that an absolute reduction in carbon emissions of 60-65 per cent would be required by 2050 to fulfil the Paris agreement.

Moreover, they say that Shell’s goal for a 50 per cent reduction would be only 25 per cent in absolute terms if the group maintains its share of a global energy market that is forecast to grow by 50 per cent by 2050.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stock Market

FT talks with the steward of the Church of England’s investment portfolio, Loretta Minghella, on god, guns, gender and her brother’s death

In the months since her arrival at Church House next door to Westminster Abbey, Ms Minghella has added to Sir Andreas’s legacy. Observers say she is hard-nosed when it comes to numbers, has a low tolerance for bad corporate behaviour and is uncompromising on issues such as gender diversity.

“We are looking for companies to have 30 per cent gender diversity on their boards. If they haven’t, we will be looking at chairs of nominations committees and actually not approving one or two of them,” she says.

“It’s the right thing to do, but it’s also the smart thing to do when it comes to investments.”

Our meeting takes place as the debate rages about investments in gun companies after the Florida school shooting.

Unsurprisingly, the fund already screens out “sin” stocks — arms, gambling, pornography, alcohol, tobacco — and it is taking a much tougher line on mining and energy companies.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Stock Market

(Belfast Telegraph) Church of England investment arm steeled for weaker returns in 2017

The head of the Church of England’s investment arm has flagged that its £7.9 billion fund will fail to match the stellar returns logged in 2016, but said ethical policies were not to blame.

While the fund managed to rake in a bumper 17.1% return on the back of a strong performance in equities in 2016, it sold down its stock holdings by around 17% or £500 million to help re-balance the portfolio during the same year, meaning a smaller boost from a further rise in stock prices is expected from 2017.

Andrew Brown, secretary and chief executive of the Church Commissioners, said: “Like all investors we were faced in 2017 with a number of headwinds and we’ve seen it with sterling, we’ve seen it with inflation and global markets have slowed.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Stock Market

(BBC) Church of England’s Sports Direct criticism praised

The Church of England still holds a minority stake in tycoon Mike Ashley’s chain, the BBC understands, but continues to engage over key areas of concern.

A spokesman confirmed it sent letters to Sports Direct attacking executive pay and working conditions.

The letters were sent over the last two years, when Sports Direct was dealing with union claims of not treating workers as humans at the Shirebrook headquarters, according to the Press Association.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Religion & Culture, Stock Market

(C of E) Church Investors group announces a harder line on Annual General Meeting voting policy

The CIG has tightened its voting policy in three main areas:

Executive pay

The CIG will review fairness in the workplace and will withdraw support for remuneration reports where pay ratios are not disclosed, Chief Executive pensions are excessive, or where financial services or pharmaceutical companies do not pay the living wage.

Gender diversity

CIG members will now vote against the re-election of nomination committee chairs where the board has less than 33% women and it will vote against all directors on the nomination committee where less than 25% of board directors are women.

Climate change

CIG members now vote against the re-election of the company chair when a company is making little progress to transition to a low carbon world….

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Stewardship, Stock Market, Theology

(FT) ExxonMobil bows to shareholder pressure, vows to improve disclosure of impact assessment from policies to tackle warming

ExxonMobil, the world’s largest listed oil and gas group, will start publishing reports on the possible impact of climate policies on its business, bowing to investor demands for improved disclosure of the risks it faces.

The decision is the biggest success so far for investors who have been pushing companies to do more to acknowledge the threat they face from climate change and from policies that curb greenhouse gas emissions.

In a regulatory filing on Monday evening, Exxon said it would introduce “enhancements” to its reporting, including analysis of the impact of policies designed to limit the increase in global temperatures to 2C, an internationally agreed objective.

At Exxon’s annual meeting in May, investors controlling about 62 per cent of the shares backed a proposal filed by a group of shareholders led by the New York state employees’ retirement fund calling for an annual assessment of the impact of technological change and climate policy on the company’s operations.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stock Market

(Guardian) Some Anglican Leaders call on Church of England to lead on climate change by divesting from ExxonMobil

As Church of England clergy, we have a strong interest in the ethics of investments made by the Church Commissioners and the Church of England Pensions Board on our behalf.

This week, governments from around the world will meet in Bonn for the next round of UN climate talks. The Paris climate change agreement, which was signed by 195 countries in December 2015, included a commitment to hold the increase in the global average temperature to “well below 2C … and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels”.

A lot has happened since then. We have witnessed the shameful decision of the president of the United States to withdraw from the Paris agreement. Average global temperatures have risen to more than 1C above pre-industrial levels. Extreme weather events, which are becoming more frequent as a result of climate change, have had devastating impacts, leading to loss of life and severe destruction in the US and the Caribbean, Africa, South Asia and as close to home as Ireland.

Read it all and note the signatories.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Corporations/Corporate Life, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stock Market

(Bloomberg) The Church of England Takes on Climate Change—and Generates a 17 Percent Return

Over the Exxon board’s objections, almost two-thirds of shareholders voted for a proposal asking the company to provide a detailed report on how curbing climate change could affect its business. Leading the charge was the giant New York State Common Retirement Fund, which manages $192 billion and is a veteran activist. Its partner was a far smaller and lower-profile newcomer taking one of its first public stands in the U.S.: the Church of England.

Through a £7.9 billion ($10 billion) fund that finances the church’s mission activities, cathedral costs, and clergy pensions, the church has been quietly—and successfully—engaging with European companies in the energy and mining industries for the past few years. BP, BHP Billiton, and Royal Dutch Shell have all voluntarily adopted similar climate change steps to those sought at Exxon.

“We see ourselves as active, rather than activist,” says ­Edward Mason, head of responsible investment at Church Commissioners for England, as the fund is formally known. The Church of England, also known as the Anglican Church, is the state church of England. Christianity came to the country during Roman times, but the church split from Rome in the 16th century under King Henry VIII. Like many socially responsible investors, the church today prefers to engage collaboratively with companies rather than resort to a public brawl.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stewardship, Stock Market

(FT) Church of England fund becomes top world performer w yoy return on assets of 17.1%

The Church of England’s £7.9bn investment fund, which has in the past struggled to reconcile questions of morality and mammon, achieved its strongest returns in more than three decades last year, lifting it into the top ranks of the world’s best-performing endowment funds.

The Church Commissioners annual report discloses total return on assets of 17.1 per cent in 2016, with strong performances from global equities, private equity and timber.

Over 10 and 20 years, the fund returned 8.3 per cent and 9.5 per cent per annum respectively, compared with its target return of 5 per cent per annum above inflation. By contrast, returns from the Yale University endowment, top of the eight-member Ivy League, rose 3.4 per cent in the year to last June, with 10 and 20-year returns at 8.1 per cent and 12.6 per cent per annum respectively.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stock Market

(Church Times) C of E urged to pull out of fossil fuels

CHRISTIAN AID has challenged the Church of England to disinvest from fossil fuels, after it emerged that the Archbishop of Canterbury was involved in persuading a major investment fund to pull its own money out fossil fuels.

BMO Global Asset Management’s range of “responsible” funds will no longer invest in any company which has reserves of fossil fuels, it an­­nounced on Monday. Archbishop Welby is the president of the firm’s ethical advisory council, and report­edly played a key part in pushing through the change in policy, which will be implemented by 2020.

Christian Aid is now ques­tioning why the Archbishop cannot play the same part closer to home and pull the C of E’s own investments out of fossil-fuel reserves.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stock Market

An American u've probably never heard of–John Arnold's War on Bad Science

Fortune Magazine once dubbed [John] Arnold “one of the least-known billionaires in the US.” His profile in the public consciousness is almost nonexistent, and he rarely gives interviews. But among hedge funders and energy traders, Arnold is a legend. John D’Agostino, former head of strategy of the New York Mercantile Exchange, says that in Arnold’s heyday, people in the industry would discuss him in “hushed and reverent tones.” In 2006, Centaurus reportedly saw returns of over 300 percent; the next year Arnold became the youngest billionaire in the country. “If Arnold decided he wanted to beat hunger,” D’Agostino says, “I wouldn’t want to bet on hunger.”

For all the swagger of that description, Arnold himself has virtually none. He is universally described as quiet and introspective. At Enron, a company famous for its brash, testosterone-laced cowboy culture, the perennially boyish-looking trader was reportedly so soft-spoken that his colleagues had to gather in close to hear him at restaurants. “People would read into it, and they would say he’s just being cagey,” D’Agostino says. “And then, after a couple of years, people were like, oh, no, he’s actually like that.”

Read it all from Wired.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Stock Market, Theology

13 International Asset Owners Desire to Embed Climate Concerns in Investment Decisions

Thirteen leading international asset owners and five asset managers with over £2 trillion under management launched the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) today to better understand how the transition to a low-carbon economy affects their investments. The TPI will assess how individual companies are positioning themselves for the transition to a low-carbon economy through a public, transparent online tool. The heads of funds involved launched the Initiative this morning at the opening of the stock market at the London Stock Exchange.

The Initiative has been led by the Church of England’s National Investing Bodies and the Environment Agency Pension Fund in partnership with the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics. Data has been provided by FTSE Russell.

Preliminary assessments released today include the oil and gas and electricity utilities sectors. As part of a phased rollout, management quality and carbon performance assessments of additional sectors and individual companies will follow in the coming months.

Read it all from the C of E.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stock Market, Theology

(Church Times) Spring push to end fossil-fuel reliance

Churches, parishes, and indi­viduals will be urged next spring to join a global disinvestment mobil­isa­tion to end the dependence on fossil fuels.

The campaign Bright Now will launch the event next May to increase pressure on big investors to move their money away from coal, oil, and gas producers into green-energy technologies.

The campaign, which is run by a Christian charity that campaigns on climate change, Operation Noah, is putting together a resource for churches on how they can disinvest from fossil fuels and reinvest in renewable energy.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Church of England (CoE), Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stock Market, Theology

Andrew Lightbown–Renewal, Reform and the ”˜resource church’

So where can we start?

One of the success stories of recent times has been the resource church. Resource churches tend to be found in the cities and typically have been HTB style plants. As Ian Paul has pointed out in a recent thought piece resource churches have achieved rapid growth, through focusing predominately on a discrete group (the 18 to 30 age range). Their astonishing growth in numbers includes a significant number of returnees to church and new converts (around 34% of their congregations comprise these two groups). Resource churches tend to be well resourced in terms of staff numbers and, have demonstrated success in terms of planting, and resourcing, new congregations. They are in other words porous.

So far resource churches have tended to be characterized through a commitment to an evangelical and charismatic expression of faith. Resource churches of this sort are not for everyone but they have been successful; up to a point, or more precisely a geographic point. They have shown an ability to reach from the centre to the suburb, but perhaps no further. But, perhaps, we can learn from the existing model of resource church, amending and extending our understanding of the term? We could, and in my view should, consider extending it to include a wider range of ecclesiologies and geographic territories.

Maybe some real work needs to be done in identifying churches that are potentially and genuinely capable of serving rural England, less we stop at the suburbs? We must invest in potential for real growth, as every good investment manager knows. We must seek out and invest in churches which are currently undervalued and, through a prudent investment strategy seek to release value.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Economy, England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stock Market, Theology

(BI) U.S. public pension plans are headed for a disaster on the current trajectory

The combined debt held by U.S. public pension plans will top $1.7 trillion next year, according to a just-released report from Moody’s Investors Services.

This “pension tsunami” has already forced towns like Stockton, California and Detroit, Michigan into bankruptcy. Perhaps no government mismanaged their pension as badly as Puerto Rico, where a $43 billion pension debt forced the commonwealth to seek protection from the federal government after having defaulted on its obligations to bondholders ”” a default which is expected to spread to retirees in the form of benefit cuts.

While the disastrous outcome of Puerto Rico’s pension plan ”” which is projected to completely run out of assets by 2019 ”” represents the worst-case scenario, the same series of events that led to its demise can be found in most public pension plans nationwide.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, City Government, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pensions, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Psychology, State Government, Stock Market, Theology