Investor Relations Week: Bankers back in the office, LSE hybrid plans and Larry Fink defends stakeholder capitalism as not ‘woke’

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– Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Man Group are among companies asking London staff to return to their offices after the UK dropped its work-from-home guidelines, reported Bloomberg (pay wall). Goldman employees are urged to return in line with the government’s announcement on Wednesday, the news agency said, citing a person familiar with the matter. A Man Group spokesperson said it expected staff to spend more time in the office, while Bloomberg said Citigroup had emailed its London staff to tell them to come at least three days a week.

“We are now free to meet in our offices, without restriction, where we are better able to generate the energy and collaborative spirit on which Citi thrives,” wrote EMEA CEO David Livingstone and the UK manager James Bardrick in an email to staff that was seen by Bloomberg.

– The London Stock Exchange (LSE) Group is seeking to “blur the line between public and private companies”, reported The Wall Street Journal (paywall), as part of what the document says is a plan to attract fast-growing tech companies to list in the UK as a result of Brexit. The LSE has proposed the creation of a special market for private companies to publicly trade their shares on the stock exchange on certain days, it said, quoting a person familiar with the matter and the LSE’s proposals to the Financial Conduct Authority of United Kingdom and the British Treasury. , which were seen by the WSJ.

– BlackRock CEO Larry Fink has sought to champion a shareholder movement focused on prioritizing the interests of the broader society over profits, saying so-called stakeholder capitalism is neither political nor political. “wake up”, CNBC reported. In his annual letter to business leaders, Fink pushed back against accusations that the asset manager was using his clout and influence to support a politically correct or progressive agenda.

“Stakeholder capitalism is not about politics,” he wrote. “It is not a social or ideological program. It’s not “awakened”. It’s capitalism, driven by mutually beneficial relationships between you and the employees, customers, suppliers, and communities your business relies on to thrive. This is the power of capitalism.

Fink’s letter reaffirmed BlackRock’s policy of engaging with companies wishing to participate in the energy transition rather than divesting completely. He added that businesses cannot be “climate police” on their own, but must instead work with governments.

– Campaigners in the UK have urged the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund to pressure siding companies and builders to address fire safety issues, the report reported. BBC. Survivors of the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire – in which 72 people died – and tenants since affected by the fire safety crisis have called on Norges Bank to withdraw £5.7billion (7, $7 billion) in funds to businesses if they don’t address issues uncovered in the aftermath of the tragedy. Lucy Brown-Cortes of the End Our Cladding Scandal campaign said shareholder pressure was “overdue”, while the BBC reported that Norges said it had increased product safety with several of the companies.

– Vanda Research analysts said in a weekly note that retail investors were less keen on buying the drop in U.S. stocks on Tuesday in the latest sign of possible fatigue following the tech-fueled trading frenzy of last year, according to Reuters. Individual investors bought $1.6 billion worth of stocks on Tuesday as U.S. stocks sold off sharply. In contrast, they bought nearly $2 billion on September 28 when the S&P 500 fell 2%.

“Retail investors bought much less than they usually would,” Vanda’s Ben Onatibia and Giacomo Pierantoni said of Tuesday’s session. “This could be the first sign that retail fatigue or capitulation is setting in, at least in the tech space.”

– The market is “oversaturated” with ad hoc acquisition companies (Spac), according to Bloomberg, which described Spacs as having become “dysfunctional”. So-called blank check companies raised more than $160 billion on US exchanges in 2021 – roughly double what was raised the previous year – according to data from Bloomberg. He said nearly 600 Spacs are now looking for an acquisition, and about 250 more say they are considering listing shares. “That’s more than enough to digest a fragile stock market,” Bloomberg noted.

– The WSJ reported that ExxonMobil said it has set a goal to reduce or offset greenhouse gas emissions from its operations to zero by 2050, amid growing pressure from investors and the public for oil companies fight against climate change. ExxonMobil said it had developed detailed emissions reduction plans for major facilities and assets, and could cost-effectively transition to greener energy sources. Engine No 1 elected three new members to the company’s board last year after criticism of its transition strategy.

The new target does not cover emissions from the use of its products, such as gasoline and other fuels made from refined petroleum, or natural gas burned in homes, which account for most of the related emissions. to the company. It also does not cover oil fields or other assets in which it invests but does not operate.

“We are developing comprehensive roadmaps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our operated assets around the world and, where we are not the operator, we are working with our partners to achieve similar results. reduction in emissions,” said CEO Darren Woods.

– Environmental activists and activist investors want the SEC, which is drafting a landmark rule proposal, to compel companies to disclose not only their own greenhouse gas emissions, but also those generated by their suppliers and other partners, according to CNBC. But business groups are pushing for a tougher rule that would make it easier and cheaper to collect and report emissions data, and protect them from lawsuits for potential errors.

Progressives and climate activists want the SEC to enact a rule that would reveal all the emissions a company is responsible for, while many investors say they need such data to fully assess companies’ exposure to change. climate change and related policy measures.

– Hong Kong is “developing into a regional center for ESG services”, reported the South China Morning Post, which described ESG qualifications as “in high demand” and “carrying salary premiums of 25-40%.” The city “raised the bar” for banks, listed companies, asset managers and insurers to comply with ESG disclosure requirements by 2025. As many as 2,586 listed companies, banks chartered companies and asset managers will have to set up ESG-related positions – or outsource them to consultants – by 2025 in Hong Kong, the paper notes, adding that currently the pool of talent for ESG in the region “is not very deep”.

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