ASIA PACIFIC

A Franklin Templeton survey revealed growing acceptance and adoption of ESG investing in Asia Pacific, led by Australia and New Zealand where 94% hold the belief that ESG integration and increase gains. Across the region as a whole, 67% of respondents considered ESG to be an important component in their investment processes, with 71% of asset owners seeking to expand expertise in the area.

By factor, 70% of Asia-Pacific respondents considered environmental factors as their first and second highest priorities among the three with 67% specifically citing climate change. Governance-related considerations topped the rank at 71% due to lower disclosure and corporate governance standards in the region’s emerging markets.

In addition, 41% of respondents quoted data access as a key challenge to introducing ESG policies; an understandable viewpoint given the nascency of sustainable investing in Asia ex-Australia and New Zealand. 

Source: Finews.asia

AUSTRALIA

AustralianSuper, the country’s largest superannuation pension fund, aims to bring 50% of its total assets in house by June 2021, said chief investment officer Mark Delaney.

The system, which is projected to grow its funds under management to A$300 billion ($204.48 billion) in the next five years, was internally managing 31% of its total portfolio in the 2017-2018 financial year. It has increased it to 40% for 2018-2019, which amounts to a total of A$70 billion of its A$175 billion in total assets.

Delaney told IPE that, in the 2019 financial year, its internalisation programme delivered more than A$160 million in savings to members.

Source: IPE

The A$10 billion ($6.79 billion) Australian Catholic Superannuation and Retirement Fund made an inaugural A$100 million allocation to the distressed debt asset class through York Capital Management.

ACSRF chief investment officer Michael Block said the fund has been cutting its allocations to equities (both Australian and international), and allocating more to real assets and debt strategies.

"Equities, bonds and many traditional asset classes are expensive. Additionally, if there is a downturn at some stage, we want be to be ready to take advantage of the situation," Block said.

Source: Financial Standard

Australian superannuation fund Sunsuper on Tuesday (November 26) announced that it had appointed US asset manager PineBridge Investments to its strategic partnership progamme. 

The two firms will share expertise and resources, with a particular emphasis on asset allocation. “The PineBridge approach to multi-asset investing is amongst the best we have seen," said Ian Patrick, Sunsuper's chief investment officer.

Source: Sunsuper

Munich Re appointed Nicolas Carro as CEO for its life and health business and operations in Australia and New Zealand, with effect from 1 January 2020, the firm said in a media release on November 29.

He joined Munich Re in 2004 and has held various Finance and Capital Management roles at Munich Re’s headquarters in Munich, as well as in Munich Re in Australia. Most recently, he was chief financial officer for Munich Re in Australasia, defining and executing the financial strategy to support its life and non-life businesses.

Source: Finews.asia

CHINA

Yang Guozhong, the former chairman of the supervisory board of China Investment Corp (CIC), will become the chairman of Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, pending regulatory approval, filling a position that has been vacant for two years.

The world's largest bank by assets announced last Friday he had been named deputy secretary of the ICBC’s Communist Party committee.

Source: Caixin
 
JAPAN

The Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) partnered with The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) for the latter to achieve the sustainable development goal in its 57 member countries.

IDB is increasing its focus on sustainable finance and stronger environmental, social and governance (ESG) integration into its projects’ financing, and the landmark collaboration was inked as it prepares to issue its first-ever green sukuk (Islamic) bond issue in the global capital markets.

Soure: IDB

KOREA

The National Pension Service (NPS) registered an 8.92% investment return as of the end of September.

It chalked up a 5.08% investment return from the local stock market and a 24.1% yield from investments in overseas stocks. The fund's return rates from investments in domestic and foreign bonds reached 4.27% and 16.47%, respectively, while the yield for alternative asset investments came to 6.87%.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

NPS also deferred a decision on a proposal that would enable it to pursue greater shareholder activism, amid controversy over the excessive role of a state-run pension fund in corporate management.

The guidelines introduced by the Ministry of Health and Welfare on November 13 intend to allow NPS to have power to request removal of certain board members of companies that are convicted of corporate crimes, such as embezzlement and breach of duty, as well as those firms that repeatedly cast a dissenting vote at board meetings.

But during the fund management committee’s meeting on November 29, representatives on the corporate side still raised concerns that its more aggressive shareholder role could lead to excessive interference in companies. They also complained that conditions for active shareholder activity remain, but they are ambiguous.

Source: Maeil Business News Korea, The Korea Herald

Prudential Life Insurance Company of Korea is up for grabs, drawing the attention of financial majors KB Financial Group and Woori Financial Group in need of bolstering insurance business.

According to multiple industry sources, US-based Prudential Financial has recently hired Goldman Sachs as lead underwriter for the sale of its Korean operation. Prudential Financial fully owns the Korean unit through Prudential International Insurance Holdings.

The sale is expected to win the attention of major financial groups in Korea due to the financial soundness of Prudential Life Insurance.

Source: Maeil Business News Korea

MALAYSIA

After making its first loss in a decade last year, Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional has sold stakes worth of MYR5.66 billion ($1.36 billion) in seven foreign firms in the first 16 months of the current government, according to a minister.

"Seeing that Khazanah does not receive any fund injection from external sources for its investments, the proceeds from the disposals are the main resource for new investments," economic affairs minister Mohamed Azmin Ali said in a written parliamentary reply to the New York Times.

It has sold about MYR2.23 billion stakes in China’s Alibaba, but it was unclear how much the firm was holding in the e-commerce giant. The investor has also exited companies including the Philippines’ BDO Unibank, retailer Farfetch and Indian tech firm Infosys.

Source: The New York Times

SINGAPORE

Singapore’s state investor Temasek is in talks to invest up to $100 million in wellness startup Cure.fit in a bid to diversify its strategy, according to two people aware of the matter.

“Temasek is actively scouting for late-stage technology investments in India and wants to cut cheques of at least $75 million. Cure.fit needs the capital to grow its food and diagnostics plays, and the deal is expected to close in 6-8 weeks,” said the first person cited above.

Founded in 2016, Cure.fit is seeking to boost its valuation from $575 million less than six months ago to about $800 million, according to people who spoke anonymously.

Source: Deal Street Asia

Temasek has led a $220 million-round of fundraising for the Mumbai-based online pharmacy startup PharmEasy.

Canada's second-largest pension fund Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, private bank LGT and South Korea's KB Financial Group also took part in the round.

The state investment fund is looking to deploy more capital in India even as it is slowing down on its global investments. The investor said in September last year that it would allocate $400 million to the Indian government-backed National Investment and Infrastructure Fund.

Source: Nikkei Asian Review

TAIWAN

Domestic banks and insurance companies have been given regulatory approvals to invest in sukuk Islamic bonds, five months after opening up the market to foreign issuers of the debt.

Islamic bonds are categorised as foreign fixed income in insurers' portfolios, and insurers are allowed to invest a maximum 65.25% of their investable assets in foreign bonds, the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) said. There is no cap on this single asset, while Taiwanese lenders will be allowed to allocate up to 10% of their net asset values to sukuk. 

Meanwhile, the FSC is also permitting insurers to allocate up to 3% of investable assets to private debt, which is in the same category as hedge funds and private equity investments.

Source: Asia Asset Management

INTERNATIONAL

Canadian pension fund Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), announced on November 27 it had acquired a 24.9% stake in the public-private partnership (PPP) contract for the trains, systems, operations and maintenance of Sydney Metro, Australia's biggest public transport project, for A$167 million ($113.83 billion). Other investors include MTR Corporation, Marubeni Corporation, Plenary Group and CIMIC Group.

“This investment is a perfect fit with our investment strategy for high quality infrastructure, with partners with deep market knowledge and extensive operational expertise,” said Emmanuel Jaclot, head of infrastructure at CDPQ.

Source: CDPQ

Seventeen of the world''s biggest insurers controlling 46% of the reinsurance market and 9.5% of the primary insurance market will not insure coal companies, according to the Unfriend Coal campaign. But Peter Bosshard, coordinator of the campaign, noted that major US and Asian insurers continue to insure and invest in coal projects.

"All responsible companies must make coal uninsurable by ending support for both new and existing mines and power plants," added Bosshard.

France’s Axa was the latest to announce plans to exit coal, pledging last week to make a complete pullout from coal investments by 2040. Reinsurance firm Swiss Re was the top-ranked firm for both its coal insurance and divestment policies. 

Source: edie.net