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banks are slow on responsible lending

November 1999

Too many European banks are slow on the uptake when it comes to devising socially and environmentally responsible lending policies, according to a survey by the social responsibility investment team at Henderson Investors.

The study of 60 banks across Europe found that although most banks ‘seemed to be well advanced in implementing workplace practices’, they showed ‘a lack of transparency and accountability as well as a refusal to accept responsibility for the environmental and social impacts of money once lent.’

Of 12 banks identified as being among the best on social and environmental matters, only three (Allied Irish, Lloyds TSB and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya of Spain) were judged to be strong on responsible financing of trade to developing countries.

Henderson researcher James Giuseppi said Lloyds TSB had been judged a good performer in this area because it had tried to tackle debt in Latin America.

‘The negative publicity Lloyds TSB has received for its overseas lending portfolio is not entirely justified,’ he said. ‘Unlike many of its competitors, Lloyds deemed it would be irresponsible simply to write off and sell such debts on the secondary markets, which provides no relief from the debt burden.’

Among the leading performers identified by the survey was Royal Bank of Scotland, which was judged to be strong in eight out of nine key areas identified by Henderson – more than any other company in the study.

Among others in the top 12 were NatWest, Den Danske Bank (Denmark), Dexia (France) and Commerzbank (Germany).




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