AUSTRALIA

Superannuation fund Hesta has written to the nation's 200 largest listed companies advocating for lower carbon emissions, more female leaders and fairer executive bonuses despite a federal government backlash against funds overstepping their role.

In a letter to ASX200 bosses and boards, the A$50 billion ($35 billion) super fund's chief executive Debby Blakey has asked companies to reduce carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement for net zero by 2050 and to employ women in 40% of top jobs.

“As a large asset owner, we obviously see engagement and exercising our vote as critically important in terms of being responsible investors. We want to be very clear with companies we invest in on our focus,” Blakey said.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

Cbus's chief technology officer is leaving in mid-October to take up a role with the Australian Football League (AFL). Rob Pickering had been chief technology officer and digital officer at the superannation fund for almost three years.

Taking to LinkedIn to share the news, Pickering said his new role would be as general manager of technology at the AFL.

Source: Financial Standard

CHINA

Denmark’s labour-market AkademikerPension fund has announced it is excluding all Chinese investments from its portfolio, dropping a total of DKr400 miilion ($62.5 million) of government bonds and shares, due to systematic human rights violations.

AkademikerPenson had previously blacklisted a number of other countries, including Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Iran. It changed its name from MP Pension in September.

Source: Investment & Pensions Europe

HONG KONG

Bank of East Asia initiated a sale process for its wholly-owned life insurance business, BEA Life, according to a September 23 press release. The bank has retained Goldman Sachs as financial adviser for the potential sale.

BEA said it had completed its comprehensive strategic review of its portfolio of businesses and assets which had been announced in March. As an output of the review, the sale of life insurance business will enable the bank to focus on core banking operations in Hong Kong and mainland China.

Source: The Bank of East Asia

Insurer FWD Group picked Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley for its planned Hong Kong initial public offering, which could raise as much as $3 billion. The Asian insurer is backed by billionaire Richard Li.

In June, FWD agreed to buy a significant minority stake in PT Rakyat Indonesia’s life insurance arm. It also recently acquired two of MetLife’s Hong Kong units. Founded in 2013, the regional life insurer has $50.9 billion in assets under management.

Source: Bloomberg

JAPAN

Japanese insurance giant Sompo has said it would not invest in local coal projects as part of its ESG efforts, but this is still not doing enough, according to Insure Our Future, an environmental campaign centring on the insurance industry.

Sompo had said that it “will not insure and invest in new construction of coal-fired power plants in Japan, except for projects for which underwriting, investment and financing has already been expressed”, making it the first Japanese insurer to make such move.

Insure Our Future, however, said that Sompo’s policy comes with significant loopholes, as it only applies to coal projects inside Japan, and comes with exemptions, such as projects with high power efficiency.

Source: Insurance Business Asia

Nippon Life Insurance is investing $100 million in a healthcare fund managed by the affiliates of US private equity manager Grove Street Advisors. The fund will invest in companies that seek to generate an impact in areas like new drugs and medical equipment.

Tokyo-based Nippon Life made its first foray into impact investing two months ago by investing $20 million into an environmental and social impact fund overseen by US private equity manager TPG Capital.

Source: Nippon Life, Asia Asset Management

KOREA

National Pension Service (NPS) has entered into strategic cooperation with Keppel Capital to explore private infrastructure investments in Asia. Keppel Capital is the asset management arm of Singapore sustainable infrastructure firm Keppel Corporation.

The deal builds on an earlier commitment by NPS to Keppel Capital’s private infrastructure initiative. Beyond infrastructure, the tie-up will also create potential collaboration opportunities across the other asset classes where Keppel Capital is active, such as real estate and data centres, and other new sectors, such as senior living, according to Keppel.

Source: Keppel Capital

Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance (SFMI) has appointed HSBC as global custodian for part of its investment portfolio in the US, Europe, Japan and China.

HSBC has completed an asset transition of a sizeable portion of SFMI’s fixed income portfolios in the US, Europe and Japan early this month. This comes after the bank’s onboarding of SFMI’s initial investment directly in the China market through its RQFII licence in May.

Source: HSBC

MALAYSIA

Employees Provident Fund (EPF), Malaysia’s largest pension fund, re-emerged as a substantial shareholder of Top Glove Corporation with a 5.05% stake on September 18, after acquiring 13.7 million shares in the world's largest rubber glove maker. It subsequently bought more shares to bump up its shareholding to 5.1%.

In addition, within a four-month period, it has increased its shareholding in Kossan Rubber Industries to 8.09%, which means a net acquisition of a 3.08% stake or 39.38 million shares. Disposable gloves have been in strong demand from hospitals and other organisations amid the Covid pandemic. 

Source: The Edge

SINGAPORE

Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC has gone back for its fourth helping of ESR warehouses this year by committing A$480 million ($337 million) to a logistics development partnership in Australia, according to an announcement by HKEX (where ESR Cayman is listed) on September 24.

GIC will up its stake in the ESR Australia Logistics Partnership to 80%, with the news coming less than three months after it closed on an initial commitment to take a 45% slice of the core-plus platform. Hong Kong-listed ESR will retain 20% of the vehicle.

Source: HKEX announcement; Mingtiandi

Japanese insurer Tokio Marine Life Insurance Singapore (TMLS) appointed Edwin Peh as its chief financial officer, Esmond Chan as chief operations officer and Goh Kay Yiong as chief investment officer.

Peh was previously chief customer officer and deputy general manager for China at HSBC Life. Chan had held various leadership positions during his 27-year tenure with NTUC Income, while Goh previously worked in Tokio Marine Asset Management International, Citibank and Bank of Singapore. 

In addition to the new appointments, TMLS's chief risk officer, Philip Woo, will take on additional responsibility to include regulatory and compliance functions, the insurer added.

Source: Business Times

TAIWAN

Taiwan life insurers may become more aggressive in infrastructure investments as the island’s financial regulator moves to ease controls over their investments in such projects.

Huang Tien-Mu, the new chairman of Taiwan's Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC), told a meeting of insurers that the regulator planned to introduce several measures to facilitate their investments in domestic infrastructure projects, including elimination of board representation limits in investee firms.

FSC figures show that Taiwanese insurers invested NT$423 billion ($14.5 billion) in infrastructure assets as of June 2020, or 1.4% of the insurance industry’s NT$29.77 trillion of assets as of December 2019.

Source: Asia Asset Management

THAILAND

The Government Pension Fund plans to adjust its strategic asset allocation next year because of changes in the market situation stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic and low investment returns.

GPF's foreign investment will rise to 40% as of October 1 from the existing limit of 30%. Global assets currently account for 28.5% of the portfolio. 

Fund managers around the world have separated foreign exchange management from the management of asset classes, equating to setting aside foreign currency risk in another portfolio, Srikanya said, adding that the GPF will explore this option next year.

Source: Bangkok Post