Fortis hires CSR experts

GLOBAL - Banking and insurance group Fortis has created a corporate social responsibility (CSR) advisory board made up of seven international experts.

The panel (see list of names below) chaired by Fortis' chief strategy officer Lex Kloosterman includes representatives from the academic world, NGOs, CSR research and business.

"What is very important in CSR is that you include the external view and the external knowledge," Babs Dijkshoorn, senior manager CSR at Fortis, explained to IPE.

"With the board, we aim to gain a broad and international insight into CSR in general. We want to share specific sector issues and dilemmas with them and learn from them how we can respond."

The panel will advise Fortis' executive committee and senior business management. They will meet twice a year with the first meeting scheduled for November.

Dijkshoorn added Fortis wants to broaden its ethical and sustainable investment product range with the help of the board.

"We had a long list from which we selected people in order to achieve a spread in expertise as well as a geographical spread," Dijkshoorn said. "This is how we came up with this list and all members were very enthusiastic. It is a good match."

Members of the Fortis CSR Advisory Board:

Michael Braungart, Professor of Process Engineering at Universität Lüneburg, Founder of EPEA International Umweltforschung, Co-founder of McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry; Stephen Brenninkmeijer, Chairman of the Network For Training Entrepreneurship (NFTE) Germany, Non-Executive Director of Xchanging; Jermyn Brooks, Board Member of Transparency International; Malini Mehra, Founder and CEO of Centre for Social Markets; Kees Koedijk, Professor of Financial Management and Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Tilburg University; S. Prakash Sethi, University Distinguished Professor, Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College, City University of New York, President of International Center for Corporate Accountability, and
Tensie Whelan, Executive Director of Rainforest Alliance.

Elsewhere, the World Bank has appointed ABN AMRO to manage its Eco-3Plus bond issuance, the proceeds of which will go towards funding poverty alleviation and sustainable development projects around the world.

Through this eurobond deal, AAA-rated World Bank is aiming to raise money to provide loans, donations and technical support to help developing countries carry out their poverty alleviation plans and stimulate economic development.

"ABN AMRO places sustainability high on the agenda and came up with a concrete proposal that went down well with us," explained Herman Wijffels, executive director at the World Bank.

The euro-denominated six-year offering pays a floating rate annual coupon (FRN) linked to the ABN AMRO Eco Index with a 3% floor.

The ABN AMRO Eco Index, created in association with Standard & Poor's, is comprised of companies that produce alternative forms of energy, engage in water and waste management, or are involved in the production of catalysts used to reduce pollution.

The note will be launched the coming weeks subject to market conditions, ABN AMRO said. It is initially aimed at investors but ABN AMRO told IPE it will also be available to any eligible investor, including institutions, in any legally-approved jurisdiction.

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