ESG may be the word that shall no longer be named, but two public campaigns show that there could be more ESG-related activism in 2024.
Oil and gas giant Shell faces renewed calls from activist groups who want more action on the company’s energy transition strategy. Amundi, Europe’s largest asset manager, and 26 other investors are demanding that Shell go beyond its current climate commitments, which the company says are “already Paris-aligned,” to include, among other things, Scope 3 emissions. The resolution is the “most significant shareholder push on climate policy faced by Shell.” This is the second year in a row Shell has faced virtually the same shareholder resolution, which garnered support from roughly 20% of shareholders.
Labor is another hot topic, the S in ESG. Bloomberg’s ESG Currents podcast covers the Strategic Organizing Center’s (SOC) activist campaign against Starbucks. Tejal Patel, corporate governance director at SOC, noted that “the company’s labor issues continue to threaten Starbuck’s shareholder value.” Despite having a minimal financial stake in the company, Patel believes the SOC’s message of increased governance has resonated with other shareholders and will make a difference in its proxy battle.
Increased activism has been brewing in corporate Japan. Bloomberg’s Lisa Du and Yasutaka Tamura write that activists are “back with a vengeance” as the total market value of targeted Japanese companies doubled to almost $252 billion last year and will likely increase again this year. On Tuesday, amid concerns about increased activism, the Tokyo Stock Exchange released a long-awaited list meant to showcase which companies have taken steps to improve capital efficiency strategies. However, Reuters Breakingviews noted that just 40% of prime-listed Japanese firms made the list – meaning activists could still find a large number of Japanese companies that are ripe for shareholder value campaigns.
And if this snowy, cold week in New York City has you thinking you wish you were in Davos, check out Brian Sozzi’s coverage of the World Economic Forum over at Yahoo! Finance. Highlights include interviews with Steven Schwarzman and PepsiCo CEO Ramon Laguarta.
Have a great weekend,