In the News – Winter 2020

1: TAKE ACTION NOW TO PROTECT SHAREHOLDER RIGHTS

Although a recent Senate Banking Committee oversight hearing excoriated SEC Chairman Jay Clayton about the agency’s proposed rules to curtail the rights of shareholders and proxy advisory firms to advocate for corporate policy changes, the SEC is pressing forward. Any investor who believes shareholder rights should be protected can submit testimony through February 3 at https://www.sec.gov/cgi-bin/ruling-comments (reference File Number S7-23-19 for the Shareholder Proposal rule and File Number S7-22-19 for the Proxy Advisor rule). Visit investorrightsforum.com for more information on what’s at stake and why your testimony matters.

2: MSCI’S SRI FUND RATINGS

MSCI ESG Research is making public its previously subscription-only ratings of over 2,800 companies to boost clarity around its ratings, and it will increase its public ratings to 7,500 companies in 2020. “We want to encourage open discussion among investors and companies on how to improve sustainability across the board and hope that making the [ratings] available to all will facilitate these discussions,” Remy Briand, head of ESG at MSCI, said in a statement. MSCI joins Morningstar in the public ESG ratings space. Natural Investments pioneered ESG fund ratings in 1992 with the Heart Rating of SRI mutual funds.

3: DANONE BECOMES THE LARGEST B CORP

Danone, one of the largest food corporations in the world and the owners of the Silk, Earthbound Farms, Dannon, and Horizon product lines, recently became the highest-profile B Corp in the world. The B Corp designation means the company meets sufficient criteria to achieve certification for operating in the best interests of owners, employees, the community, and the environment. The company’s commitment to reducing waste and more efficiently using later and energy are just a few ways the company is reducing costs while boosting responsible practices.

4: PAX WORLD FUNDS GO FOSSIL FUEL FREE

Pax World Funds, one of the oldest ESG fund managers in the world, has announced that nine of its 11 funds are now fossil fuel free, meaning the funds exclude companies from consideration for investment if they derive significant revenues from the extraction, exploration, production, or refining of fossil fuels. Natural Investments’ longstanding Fossil Fuel Free model portfolio, which  as been its most popular portfolio among investors for many years, uses the work of As You Sow to track fossil fuels in mutual funds. To learn more visit: fossilfreefunds.org.

5: BANKS CEASE LENDING TO PRIVATE PRISONS

Thanks to shareholder advocacy, which Natural Investments participates in, all banks known to provide credit and loans to private prison companies GEO Group and CoreCivic have committed to ending ties with them. The banks’ refusal to renew an estimated $2.4 billion in credit and loans to the two prison giants will cause a projected shortfall of 87.4% in credit and loans used to finance daily operations. The share price of these stocks continues to tumble.