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ASB takes responsible investment line

March 2007

ASB Community Trust, Australasia’s biggest philanthropic body, is to use the ten principles of the United Nations Global Compact as the basis for a new socially responsible approach to its NZ$1.1billion ($762million, £390million) assets.

The trust, which is based in Auckland, recently signed up to the Compact, committing itself to the principles on issues such as human rights, labour, the environment and corruption. But it will also now use the principles to guide its research into the performance of companies in which it might invest.

Jennifer Gill, the trust’s chief executive, said: ‘We want to demonstrate leadership in this important area of investment. It’s about advancing universal principles and responsible corporate citizenship to make the global economy more sustainable and inclusive.

‘This is a process of engagement. We are not about to divest ourselves of major investments overnight. Where there has been a breach of the UN guidelines we will be encouraging dialogue and discussion. As long as a company is talking about the issue and is seen to be making progress in remedying it, we will continue to hold them.

ASB is resaerching more than 2800 companies, and all companies with allegations against them will be contacted for their response.

The trust has chosen the Centre for Australian Ethical Research and Ethical Investment Research Services (EIRIS) as its partner to monitor companies in its investment portfolio.

The centre, in the Australian capital Canberra, belongs to a global alliance of monitoring agencies and represents the London-based EIRIS, which has 20 years’ experience of responsible investment research in the Asia Pacific area, Europe, the UK and the US.

The trust, which distributes grants of $55m a year to charities in Auckland and Northland, does not expect its SRI policy to affect its return, which has been 8.7 per cent a year since 1994.




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