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March 26, 2014
News Briefs for March 26th
    by Robert Kropp

Trillium Asset Management withdraws shareowner proposal on political spending at Hess, and Calvert Investments wins Lipper Fund Award.

The dominoes may be falling in slow motion while corporate governance advocates await a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ruling on corporate disclosure of political spending activities, but another company has joined the ranks of those that have agreed to do so.

Trillium Asset Management announced this week that it has withdrawn its shareowner resolution at Hess, calling for the Fortune 100 oil company to report on its political spending.

“The company has committed to fully disclose its trade association memberships and the other tax exempt organizations which it makes contributions to, as well as the portion of those payments that are used for political activities,” Trillium announced yesterday.

A similar proposal filed last year by Trillium gained the support of 46% of the shareowners of Hess.

Ever since the Supreme Court's controversial Citizens United decision in 2010, resolutions addressing corporate political spending have been the most common type filed by shareowners. According to the Center for Political Accountability (CPA), whose model resolution forms the basis of many of those filed by sustainable investors and others, more than 120 corporations have voluntarily agreed to disclose their political spending activities.

Although the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has reportedly removed political spending from its 2014 agenda, Chair Mary Jo White did state in February that Commission “staff will focus on making specific recommendations for updating the rules that govern public company disclosure” this year.

“We encourage the company to take further steps to strengthen its transparency and oversight of political contributions and lobbying spending,” Trillium stated following the agreement with Hess.

Calvert Investments announced that its Global Water Fund is the recipient of the 2014 Lipper Fund Award for funds in the Global Natural Resources Funds classification.

The Calvert Global Water Fund is designed to achieve long term returns by investing in water solutions posed by sustainability challenges. The companies in the portfolio must meet strict environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) criteria.

“Water is our most vital natural resource and one without substitution,” said co-portfolio manager Matt Sheldon. “Demand for water-related solutions to address global growth as well as fix existing aging infrastructure is ongoing, creating above-average growth potential over the long term. It is estimated that water infrastructure alone will require $22 trillion globally over the next several decades.”


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