Another 18 investors join social media engagement

Source: New Zealand Superannuation Fund

Another 18 investors have joined the initiative to strengthen controls on social media content that the NZ Super Fund, Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), Government Superannuation Fund (GSF), National Provident Fund (NPF) and Kiwi Wealth (KW) announced last month.

This brings the number of investors involved in the engagement to 23, with total assets under management of more than NZD800 billion.

The objective of the engagement is to convince social media companies Facebook, Google and Twitter to strengthen controls to prevent the live streaming and distribution of objectionable content, such as the shootings that took place in Christchurch on Friday 15 March 2019.

Initiative spokesman, NZ Super Fund CEO Matt Whineray, said the group appreciated the strength of the response from investors so far. “Our initial focus has been on building a broad coalition of New Zealand investors. We have been delighted to receive swift and wholehearted support for the initiative from the wider New Zealand investment sector. There is also a groundswell of international interest and support. We are now seeking the involvement of other leading institutional investors globally.

“Collective action from multiple investors has the best chance of success. The combination of New Zealand’s investor voice and a global coalition of shareholders has the potential to be immensely powerful.”

Mr Whineray and NZ Super Fund Chair Catherine Savage will speak with a number of influential global investors about the initiative in London this week.

Leaders Group (Crown-owned investors)

New Zealand Super Fund (NZSF)

Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC)

Government Superannuation Fund (GSF)

National Provident Fund (NPF)

Kiwi Wealth (KW)

Confirmed Participants – NZ

AMP Financial Services

ANZ New Zealand Investments

ASB

BNZ

Booster

Investment Services Group (Devon Funds, JMI Wealth, Select Wealth and Clarity Funds)

Mercer NZ

Milford Asset Management

PIE Funds/JUNO KiwiSaver Scheme

Rata Foundation

Simplicity

Westpac / BT Funds Management

Confirmed Participants – International

AMP Capital

Australian Ethical

Church of England Pensions Board

Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF)

Merseyside Pension Fund

Vic Super

ENDS

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New Zealand Investment Funds, with combined assets of more than NZ$90 billion, add their weight to calls for Facebook, Google and Twitter to take action

Source: New Zealand Superannuation Fund

The NZ Super Fund, Accident Compensation Corporation, Government Superannuation Fund Authority, National Provident Fund and Kiwi Wealth are putting their investment heft behind calls for Facebook, Google and Twitter to take action following the live-streaming and sharing on social media of last week’s Christchurch terror attacks.

Together, the five public investors manage assets worth more than NZ$90 billion on behalf of New Zealanders.

Matt Whineray, NZ Super Fund CEO, said the joint shareholder engagement would focus on ensuring that the companies concerned fulfil their duty of care to prevent harm to their users and to society.

“We have been profoundly shocked and outraged by the Christchurch terror attacks and their transmission on social media. These companies’ social licence to operate has been severely damaged. We will be calling on Facebook, Google and Twitter to take more responsibility for what is published on their platforms. They must take action to prevent this sort of material being uploaded and shared on social media. An urgent remedy to this problem is required.”

The group is supportive of calls by New Zealand telecommunications company CEOs for Facebook, Google and Twitter to participate in an urgent industry and government discussion to find an enduring solution to this issue.

The investors are calling on other New Zealand and global investors to join them in engaging with the companies, saying collective action will give the initiative the most impact.

“We are in the process of contacting other New Zealand and leading global investors, seeking their support for this initiative,” said Mr Whineray.

“Our responsible investment decisions are guided by New Zealand law and major policy positions of the New Zealand Government. We are therefore also investigating whether there have been breaches of any New Zealand laws or regulations by these companies, and monitoring potential changes to Government policy.”

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New publication – How we Invest White Paper on Climate Change

Source: New Zealand Superannuation Fund

This white paper, by Matt Whineray (CEO) and Anne-Maree O’Connor (Head of Responsible Investment), one of a series of papers explaining how we invest, sets out the NZ Super Fund’s climate change strategy, how we have implemented it and some of the frameworks we have used.

Further information about our climate change investment strategy, including a video with Matt, is available on our website in the Climate Change section.

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NZ Super Fund takes important step to improve transparency

Source: New Zealand Superannuation Fund

Records of how the NZ Super Fund has voted at listed company AGMs are now available on the Fund’s website.

Anne-Maree O’Connor, Head of Responsible Investment, says the move is a step forward for transparency, and in line with leading investment management practices globally.

Stakeholders can now see NZ Super Fund voting data by country and company right down to individual resolutions.

“The Fund’s voting information will be useful for companies, investors and other stakeholders in the listed markets, and making it available on our website is consistent with our organisational commitment to transparency,” says Ms O’Connor.

“Voting is a core part of the NZ Super Fund’s responsible investment approach. Given its importance to shareholder oversight of directors and boards, our aim is for the Fund’s votes to reflect the essential elements of good governance: transparency, board alignment with shareholder interests, long-term strategy, appropriate remuneration, business ethics and shareholder rights.”

The NZ Super Fund’s voting policy is guided by international standards such as the ICGN Global Governance Principles, the G20/OECD Principles of Corporate Governance and, for New Zealand listed companies, the New Zealand Corporate Governance Forum Guidelines and the NZX Code. The Fund is also advised by proxy voting service ISS and its external investment managers.

The NZ Super Fund has shares in around 6,000 listed companies globally, giving the Fund broad, diversified exposure to global markets. Most of these global equity investments are passively held, which means they are based on inclusion in broad market indices rather than manager selection.  In New Zealand, the Fund’s $1.8 billion of domestic listed equity investments are actively managed via mandates run by Devon Funds, Mint Asset Management and the Guardians’ in-house team of investment professionals.

The voting data dates from 1 July 2018, and covers all the NZ Super Fund’s holdings in listed equities, both in New Zealand and globally. It will be updated on an ongoing basis.

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NZ Super Fund 2017/18 Annual Select Committee Review

Source: New Zealand Superannuation Fund

Appearing before Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Select Committee today for the 2017/18 Annual Review of the Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation, Chair Catherine Savage provided an update on the performance of the NZ Super Fund.

Ms Savage said recent volatility in equity markets provided opportunities for investors such as the NZ Super Fund. “With no substantial withdrawals from the Fund forecast until the 2050s, we can take a long term view and look to profit from the ups and downs along the way.”

Equity markets rebounded strongly in January after a significant decline in the last quarter of the 2018 calendar year. At the end of January 2019, the Fund stood at $40 billion.

“We encourage stakeholders to look through short-term shifts in value and focus instead on more appropriate and long-term metrics of success.”

Since inception in 2003, the Fund has returned 9.96% p.a. (as at 31 January 2019, after costs, before NZ tax). The Fund is also ahead of its Treasury Bill and passive Reference Portfolio benchmarks, which have returned 3.96% p.a. and 8.44% p.a. respectively over the same period.

Ms Savage said the Guardians’ 2017/18 year was notable for the appointment of Matt Whineray as Chief Executive Officer, following the departure of long-standing CEO Adrian Orr to the Reserve of Bank of New Zealand. The Government has also appointed three new members to the Guardians’ Board, Simon Botherway, Catherine Drayton and Henk Berkman. A new Chief Investment Officer, Stephen Gilmore, will commence at the Guardians in late February.

In his first appearance at the Committee as CEO, Mr Whineray said it was a privilege to lead the Guardians and Fund, which in 2018 was named the Asian Investor Sovereign Wealth Fund of the Year.

Notable transactions over the year included new investments in Fidelity Life, fresh fruit and vegetable grower and marketer NZ Gourmet and US-based waste and recycling technology company Rubicon Global. The Fund also diversified its rural landholdings with investments in a New Zealand vineyard and leading Australian beef stud Palgrove. Existing investment manager Apollo Global Management was appointed to a third Fund mandate and, subsequent to the end of the financial year, a new manager, Neuberger Berman, was appointed.

The Guardians also made progress towards meeting the Fund’s carbon reduction targets for 2020, with a low-carbon approach now applied to emerging market equities as well as to passive global and New Zealand equity holdings.

Together with Canadian institutional investor CDPQ Infra, in May last year the Guardians expressed an interest in funding, designing, building, owning and operating a light rail system for Auckland, on a commercial basis. Mr Whineray said the Guardians and CDPQ Infra remained very interested in partnering with the Government on the project.

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