Investor Relations Week: ‘Immoral’ Oil Profits, BlackRock Will Offer Crypto to Institutional Investors, and Shareholder Proposals Rise Following SEC Changes

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The Guardian reported on comments by António Guterres, the UN secretary-general, describing record oil and gas company profits as immoral as he urged governments to introduce a windfall tax, using the money to help those who need it most. Speaking in New York, Guterres said the “grotesque greed” of fossil fuel companies and their backers drove the combined profits of the biggest energy companies in the first quarter of this year to nearly $100 billion. .

“It is immoral that oil and gas companies are making record profits from this energy crisis on the backs of the poorest people and communities, at a huge cost to the climate,” he said.

– BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, has formed a partnership with publicly traded crypto exchange Coinbase to make crypto directly accessible to institutional investors, reported CoinDesk. Joint customers of Coinbase and BlackRock’s investment management platform Aladdin will have access to crypto trading, custody, prime brokerage and reporting capabilities, he said.

“Our institutional clients are increasingly interested in exposure to digital asset markets and focused on how to effectively manage the operational lifecycle of these assets,” said CoinDesk, Joseph Chalom, global head of strategic partnerships for the ecosystem at BlackRock, in a corporate blog. Publish. “This connectivity with Aladdin will allow clients to manage their Bitcoin exposures directly within their existing portfolio management and trading workflows for a complete portfolio view of risk across all asset classes.”

The the wall street journal (paywall) reported that, according to data analytics firm ESGUAGE, investors submitted 650 proposals to S&P 500 companies as of July 29, compared to 613 proposals and 556 proposals during the same period in 2021 and 2020, respectively. . The increase follows changes to the SEC’s guidance on the conditions under which it will grant a no-action waiver to companies to exclude proposals. The SEC proposed additional changes last month.

“These changes will make it more difficult to exclude shareholder proposals,” said Laura Richman, an attorney at the law firm Mayer Brown, who did not discuss specific proposals. “So maybe we’ll see more next year.” Companies need to spend more time and money engaging with investors as they submit more proposals and become more prescriptive in what they seek, the lawyers said. The latter results in a lower percentage of proposals gaining majority support.

– Mark Moran, formerly of Centerview Partners but who joined financial influencer firm Litquidity last year as his first public hire after a stint on the reality show Boy’s Islandwould leave the New York-based startup after 10 months. Bloomberg (paywall) reported that the 30-something is in the process of setting up a company called Equity Animal, which will focus on investor relations and corporate marketing. The news agency said that among the company’s first clients are RCI Hospitality Holdings – which owns strip clubs and bars across the United States – and diversified holding company Ballantyne Strong.

– The FinancialTimes (paywall) reported that Robinhood is laying off almost a quarter of its staff. The company that “took advantage of the retail boom in the age of the coronavirus pandemic and promised to revolutionize stock brokerage” is facing a drop in client activity, according to the newspaper. The company announced in a blog post on Tuesday that it was cutting its workforce by 23% — or around 780 employees — as part of a reorganization that would also see two of its offices closed. “We are going to part ways with many incredibly talented people today in an extremely challenging macro environment,” Robinhood co-founder Vlad Tenev wrote.

– Ben & Jerry’s independent board says parent Unilever, with which it is in a dispute over the sale of its Israeli business, froze its directors’ salaries in July as leverage ahead of a mediation on the matter, Reuters (paywall) reported. Ben & Jerry’s sued Unilever on July 5 to try to prevent the sale of its Israel business to local licensee Avi Zinger. Last year, Ben & Jerry’s said it no longer wanted to sell its products in the occupied West Bank because it was “inconsistent” with its values, prompting Unilever to complete the sale.

“This decision for us to go to court is due to the sale of Unilever without our input, which is a clear breach of the letter and the spirit of our original acquisition agreement with Unilever,” the statement said. Chairman of the Board Anuradha Mittal. “If Unilever is prepared to so flagrantly violate the agreement that has governed the parties’ conduct for more than two decades, we believe it will not stop at this issue.” If left unchecked, Unilever’s actions will undermine our social mission and essential brand integrity, which threatens our reputation and ultimately our business as a whole.

Unilever did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

– Amendments to Mifid II entered into force this week, concerning the integration of sustainability factors, risks and preferences in certain organizational requirements and operating conditions of investment firms, noted The exchange. But he added that newly released data suggests that many buy-side companies are not yet ready to submit the data required by the new rules. One of the main requirements is that fund managers must from today provide ESG data for all their EU products to their fund distribution channels.

“Many buy-side and sell-side companies are still in the process of defining their company-wide ESG strategies, but are committing to short/medium and long-term ESG,” Anita Karppi, Head of ESG, chief revenue officer and strategic advisor on Plia repository counterparty due diligence, told the publication. “When it comes to regulation and standards, ESG is a rapidly evolving space and it’s imperative that companies monitor and commit to long-term sustainability.”

– Net inflows into sustainable funds in Asia, excluding China and Japan, fell 27% in the second quarter of 2022 from the previous quarter, reflecting the global trend of market sell-offs, reported Citywire Asia. Net inflows into the region totaled $929 million in the three months to June, up from $1.27 billion in the first quarter, the publication said, citing Morningstar’s quarterly Global Sustainable Fund Flows report. .

Taiwan again accounted for the largest net new money volume in the quarter at $911 million. Hong Kong attracted $129 million while Thailand attracted $800,000, reversing the negative trend from the previous quarter. In contrast, South Korea, India and Indonesia recorded net outflows. The largest outflows in South Korea occurred in fixed income funds, while some equity funds continued to attract money, Morningstar said.

Reuters reported that HSBC had rebuffed a proposal by major shareholder Ping An Insurance Group Co of China to split the bank, which HSBC said would be costly. HSBC’s comments represented its most direct defense since news of Ping An’s proposal to cut out its Asian operations emerged in April. It preceded HSBC’s meeting with shareholders in Hong Kong on Tuesday, where the Chinese insurer’s proposal was discussed.

Without directly referring to Ping An by name in its earnings presentation on Monday, HSBC said a break would mean a potential long-term impact on the bank’s credit rating, tax bill and operating costs, and would entail immediate risks in the execution of any spin-off or merger. . Ping An has not publicly confirmed or commented on the proposed breakup. A Ping An spokesperson declined to comment on HSBC’s results and strategy.

— AMC Entertainment appears to have found “a creative solution” to increase its share count and raise funds after investors balked at a proposal to issue more shares last year, noted CNBC. The news outlet reported that AMC plans to issue a dividend to all common stockholders in the form of preferred stock. The company has applied to list the preferred shares on the NYSE under the symbol “APE”, in a nod to those nicknamed “monkeys”: the retail investors who helped save the world’s largest movie theater chain from the brink bankruptcy in early 2021.

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