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ESG practices key to investments

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KWAP: Sustainability element must be GLICs’ priority

PETALING JAYA: Retirement Fund Inc (KWAP) has warned that it “will not hesitate” to dispose of its investments, if the investee companies fail to show betterment in their environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices.

Nik Amlizan Mohamed, the CEO of the pension fund, said that KWAP has taken such action in the past, although she stopped short of naming the investee companies.

Nevertheless, it is worth noting that KWAP has sold its entire stake in Serba Dinamik Holdings Bhd earlier this year, after the company was found embroiled in multi-billion-ringgit financial irregularities.

Nik Amlizan, who made history in 2020 as the first woman to head a Malaysian pension fund, also noted that KWAP’s ESG policy was recently enhanced to incorporate two additional aspects.

“The first (aspect) is not to invest in companies that are in violation of widely accepted ethical norms, standards and laws with regard to human rights, labour standards, environment as well as corruption.

“The second aspect is not to invest in companies that operate in an unsustainable manner with severe and irremediable damage to biodiversity, ecosystem, climate as well as community,” she said during the Why Malaysia? virtual panel discussion jointly-organised by Bursa Malaysia and Malayan Banking Bhd.

Nik Amlizan Mohamed, the CEO of the pension fund, said that KWAP has taken such action in the past, although she stopped short of naming the investee companies.

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Apart from KWAP, the other government-linked investment companies (GLICs) represented in the panel discussion were Khazanah Nasional Bhd, Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).

All four GLICs expressed their aim to be more vocal in pushing their investee companies to be more ESG-compliant, as well as to make impactful investments.

EPF CEO Datuk Seri Amir Hamzah Azizan said the fund’s investee companies must embrace the “ESG movement”, and that EPF will assist them in the path towards ESG compliance.

“Ultimately, one of our most powerful tools we have as a shareholder is the voting guidelines.

“We tell the company that if we don’t see this (certain compliance), we can take steps to implement it.

“We can influence the company and we can raise motions in the AGM,” he said.

Moving forward, Amir said EPF will be “more noisy” in the shareholder meetings of its investee companies, as compared to its “fairly quiet and passive” presence in the past.

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