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ESG roundup: PharmaFutures, company blacklisting, FTSE

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  • ESG roundup: PharmaFutures, company blacklisting, FTSE

GLOBAL – A new approach to establishing how medicines represent value to changing health systems is required, according to the fifth PharmaFutures report.

The report concludes that leadership is needed to drive collaboration and cross-sector understanding of the real pressures on all constituencies such as health departments, pharma companies and payers.

And the pharma sector needs investors' backing to deliver on this long-term agenda.

Daniel Summerfield, co-head of responsible investment at the UK's Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), said: "As a significant investor in global healthcare companies, USS is of the view that the pharma model has to adapt to a new environment, in which the value it brings to health systems and patients is being redefined.

"It is incumbent upon both investors and companies to come to a shared understanding of how long-term sustainable growth will be delivered in this new paradigm."

The strategic prize is a model of drug development, licensing and pricing that offers more predictable results for patients, health systems, companies and their investors.

The PharmaFutures report series is the result of a dialogue between major pharmaceutical companies, health system executives and global institutional investors and sets out a roadmap for future business models in a rapidly changing market.

In other news, a study by French research centre Novethic has found that blacklisting controversial companies helps responsible investors curb excesses.

Although norm-based exclusion alone will not change things, it does spur investors to challenge business models leading to human rights violations that, in their view, will eventually prove too costly for the companies involved.

According to the European Sustainable Investment Forum (Eurosif), norm-based exclusion increased by 54% in Europe between 2009 and 2011 to more than €2.3bn.

Originating in Northern countries and epitomised in the policy pursued by Norway's sovereign wealth fund, norm-based exclusion combined with shareholder engagement has become the predominant practice of major Dutch pension funds.

The Novethic study examined the blacklists drawn up by 10 funds with €300bn under management.

Although investors do not share the same definitions of controversies that warrant exclusion, it found six multinationals featuring heavily on blacklists: Walmart, Yahoo!, Chevron, PetroChina, Vendanta and Shell.

In France, norm-based filters were applied to €1.3trn at end-2012 compared with €136bn in 2010, a near tenfold increase.

Norm-based exclusion not only shields investors' own reputation, it is a way of warning companies to put a stop to controversies, according to Novethic.

The research firm says the impact of norm-based exclusion could be enhanced through coordinated shareholder action backed up by public opinion and the media.

Investors will have an even greater incentive to act since there is a growing tendency for them to be held indirectly responsible for corporate criminal conduct.

Accordingly, the key issue for responsible investors is to develop models that allow them to identify emerging controversies and thus avoid being subsequently accused of complicity.

Lastly, index provider FTSE will introduce a new food, agriculture and forestry sector to its Environmental Markets indices.

In total, 31 selected food, agriculture and forestry companies will be included in the FTSE Environmental Market Series including companies that deliver environmental solutions such as carbon sequestration, biodiversity protection, improved farming and efficient resource use.

The new sector will include three subsectors – sustainable and efficient agriculture, logistics, food safety and packaging and sustainable forestry and plantations.

The new sector will be included as of the index rebalance on 24 June.

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