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NZ Super better than average on UN PRI

The US$10 billion sovereign fund New Zealand Superannuation Fund (NZSF) has, in its typically transparent fashion, published a UN assessment of its adherence to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment.

The assessment revealed the NZSF made progress on adherence to all six principles between 2007 and 2008, and is now in the top quartile for Principles 2 and 3 and in the top half of the 300-plus signatories to UNPRI for all the others.

“It is important to remember we are a new fund and that responsible investment is also an evolving area,” said Ann-Maree O’Connor, head of responsible investment at the NZSF trustee company, the Guardians.

“We have made significant progress in a short period. Looking ahead, given that we employ specialist investment managers to carry out our investment strategies, we are assessing how we can better incorporate responsible investment issues into their decision making.  This is a challenge for most funds of our size and diversification.”

To that end, the NZSF also announced the appointment of a specialist ESG analyst.

Meanwhile in the region, one of Australia’s largest superannuation funds, the US$15.6b UniSuper, recently began voting proxies on one-third of the shares it owns in Asian markets, covering more than 400 companies.

David St John, chief investment officer of UniSuper, said the fund, which has approximately AUD$1 billion invested in the region, decided to expand its proxy voting policy after observing improvements in voting services in Asia.

Corporate governance practices in Asia were “still maturing” and the integrity of proxy voting processes varied, St John said, but the infrastructure required to vote shares with more confidence had been built.

The fund appointed British proxy voting services company Pension Investment Research Consultants to advise it on shareholder votes in the region.

St John expected UniSuper’s move to improve the long-term performance of its investments and “encourage greater participation from other global investors” during shareholder votes in Asia.

UniSuper is a signatory to the UN PRI, which advocates that funds diligently vote proxies.

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