• The coronavirus pandemic has shone yet more light on how investors allocate their money and how company operations influence our societies.
  • But there are questions about whether ESG is really effective in improving and supporting our communities. 
  • A portfolio manager told CNBC that companies can “hide” their actual carbon footprint by outsourcing parts of their production process.

Is sustainable investing just a marketing ploy?

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LONDON — There’s growing appetite to invest in a more sustainable way, but experts warn that transparency is needed in this space if it’s to really do any good for the planet.

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ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) describes investments made with an aim to contribute to a better environment, society or workplace and it’s becoming increasingly popular. The share of global investors that have applied ESG criteria to at least a quarter of their total investments has jumped from 48% in 2017 to 75% in 2019, according to data from audit firm Deloitte.

And this is only expected to keep rising.

In the U.S. alone, professional investors could have 50% of their total investments in ESG assets in the next five years, data from Deloitte also showed.

“There is this increasing understanding in society that we need to care about the climate, about social conditions of employees,” Zacharias Sautner, a professor of finance at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, told CNBC last month via Zoom, adding that this is being reflected in the way investments are made.

The coronavirus pandemic has shone yet more light on how investors allocate their money and how company operations influence our societies. For instance, a number of multinationals have announced in recent months new measures to ensure a more equal workplace. 

But there are question marks on whether ESG is

Dillard’s department store.

Source: Zereshk | Wikipedia

Shares of Dillard’s gained 27% on Monday — at one point during the session jumping more than 40% — after one of Warren Buffett’s investing lieutenants disclosed a personal stake in the embattled retailer.

According to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Ted Weschler, who is an investment manager at Berkshire Hathaway, bought roughly 1.08 million shares of Dillard’s, or about 5.89% of shares outstanding.

The Friday filing shows that Weschler topped the 5% threshold on Sept. 29. The filing noted that the shares will be held in a trust on behalf of Weschler’s family members.

Shares of Dillard’s are down more than 40% this year amid lackluster sales. In the latest quarter, however, the retailer reported a much smaller-than-expected quarterly loss thanks to inventory and cost control measures. Revenue, however, came up short.

Weschler, along with Buffett’s other protege, Todd Combs, have been responsible in recent years for steering Berkshire into some winning bets in the technology sector.

Weschler joined Berkshire Hathaway in early 2012 after spending a total of $5.3 million for two meals with Buffett through Buffett’s annual “Power Lunch” charity auction.

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – Asian stocks were set to rise on Tuesday as a renewed tech rally and fresh optimism that Washington would deliver a coronavirus relief package helped lift global equity markets.

Shares in Apple Inc

surged 6.4% on Wall Street on Monday ahead of an expected debut of its latest iPhone on Tuesday, helping boost technology stocks, while Amazon

rallied 4.8% ahead of its Prime Day shopping event this week.

CommSec Senior Economist Ryan Felsman said a COVID-19 resurgence in Europe and the United States is partly fueling the tech rally.

“Once again, there is a desire to hold the stay-at-home types of technology stocks…which will still generate profits and will be greatly oriented to a more challenging economic environment,” Felsman said.

On Wall Street, the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> on Monday staged its biggest one-day rally in a month, jumping 2.56%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> rose 0.88% and the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 1.64%.

The U.S. dollar was pinned near a three-week low and gold, another safe-haven asset, stayed below a three-week high, slapped by investor demand for risk. The U.S. bond market is closed on Monday for Columbus Day.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> closed 0.11% higher.

Australian S&P/ASX 200 futures

rose 1.05% in early trading. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index futures <.HSI>

rose 0.11%.

E-mini futures for the S&P 500

rose 0.01%.

The dollar index <=USD> fell 0.078%, with the euro

unchanged at $1.1813.
=>

The pan-European STOXX 600 index <.STOXX> rose 0.72% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe <.MIWD00000PUS> gained 0.01%.

Bets that more U.S. stimulus was in the offing came despite signs that talks in Washington had stalled again, leading the Trump administration to call on Congress to pass a less ambitious coronavirus relief bill.

U.S.

LONDON (Reuters) – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday urged development banks to stop backing fossil fuel projects, after a report found the World Bank had invested $12 billion in the sector since the 2015 Paris Agreement to combat climate change.

Environmental campaigners have for years tried to prevent the oil, coal and natural gas industry from producing dangerous levels of the greenhouse gases that cause climate change by persuading commercial banks to stop lending them money.

But the world’s state-backed development banks, whose support is often crucial in determining whether projects in developing countries go ahead, are also facing growing calls to starve the industry of finance.

Guterres urged a coalition of finance ministers and economic policymakers from dozens of countries to ensure development banks end fossil fuel investments and boost renewable energy.

“We need speed, scale, and decisive leadership,” Guterres said in a video message to a virtual meeting of the group.

Earlier on Monday, a report by Berlin-based environmental group Urgewald said that the World Bank had invested more than $12 billion in fossil fuels since the Paris accord, $10.5 billion of which was direct finance for new projects.

That put the World Bank far ahead of other development banks in supporting the sector, said Heike Mainhardt, a senior adviser to Urgewald, who wrote the report.

With the world already on track to produce far more fossil fuels than would be compatible with temperature goals agreed in Paris, the report questioned why the World Bank would back increased oil and natural gas production in countries such as Mexico, Brazil and Mozambique.

The World Bank said the report gave a “distorted and unsubstantiated view,” adding that it had committed nearly $9.4 billion to finance renewable energy and energy efficiency in developing countries from 2015-19.

The bank also

By Corina Pons, Luc Cohen and Mayela Armas

CARACAS (Reuters) – Three small investment funds have started buying defaulted Venezuelan bonds as hopes of a change of government are fading and the South American nation is proposing a restructuring, according to sources and documents.

Canaima Capital Management, headquartered on the English Channel island of Guernsey, Uruguay-based Copernico and Cayman Islands-based Altana have bought heavily discounted bonds with face value of hundreds of millions of dollars, according to eight finance industry sources in Caracas, New York, Miami, Madrid and London.

The funds appear to be part of a small group of contrarian investors bucking the broader market consensus, which maintains there is little value in Venezuelan bonds that have not been serviced in nearly three years amid an economic crisis.

The funds believe it is time to act and to evaluate legal options instead of waiting for a friendly negotiation with allies of Juan Guaido, who is recognized by more than 50 countries as Venezuela’s interim president, even though he still hasn’t taken power.

The funds argue investors may be unable to recover missed interest payment after 2020 due to a statute of limitations clause in the bonds’ covenants – an assertion flatly denied by the main committee for Venezuela creditors.

Nonetheless, the efforts to amplify these concerns has fueled nervousness and increased the willingness of bondholders to sell their notes, according to four Venezuelan finance industry sources.

Altana, which two sources said was offering to buy bonds this year, has already taken legal action against Venezuela to try to force payment. In an Oct. 8 complaint filed with the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, the fund demanded payment from Venezuela on $108 million of defaulted bonds.

That came after investment funds Casa Express and