Incorporating environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) factors improves outcomes for corporate bond investors, according to a report from JP Morgan Asset Management.The asset manager found that ESG scores could enhance portfolio outcomes via lower drawdowns, reduced portfolio volatility and, in some cases, marginally increased risk-adjusted returns.Although its study showed that using ESG scores improved gross portfolio returns for all categories of corporate bonds, this only held true for investment grade corporate debt once transaction costs were accounted for.The study involved back-testing portfolios of investment grade, high yield and emerging market debt, comparing their benchmarks with a portfolio constructed using MSCI ESG scores. The asset manager also set out to find out whether ESG scores differed from traditional agency credit ratings, and said the study suggested that MSCI scores were “additive” to traditional credit ratings.“The contingent liabilities related to ESG issues are not necessarily factored into rating agencies’ assigned ratings,” said Lovjit Thukral, vice president for global fixed income, currency and commodities (GFICC) at the asset manager and report co-author with Bhupinder Bahra, co-head of the quantitative research group for GFICC.According to Thukral and Bahra, the study showed that MSCI’s ‘E’, ‘S’, and ‘G’ scores were generally not related to one another or to credit agency ratings. In the investment grade segment, the governance score was negatively related to credit agency ratings.Another result of the study was that ESG benchmarks (of issuers covered by MSCI) had an inherent quality bias in terms of the performance metrics.In 2017, Hermes Investment Management found that there was a significant relationship between companies’ ESG credentials and their credit spreads. It recently turned its attention to ESG risks in sovereign bond markets, as did BlueBay Asset Management.Rating agencies have moved to more clearly demonstrate how ESG considerations feed into their credit analysis in response to pressure from investors.
Vitol Netherlands B.V., a majority shareholder in Latvian Shipping Company (LSC), has proposed to delist and sell 200 million bearer shares of the shipping company, listed on Nasdaq Riga.The proposal is set to be discussed at the extraordinary shareholder meeting scheduled for December 20, 2017.Vitol Netherlands acquired 19.62 percent of the total voting capital in LSC in June this year, bringing its total shareholding to 69.56 percent.Latvian Shipping Company returned to the black having posted a net profit of USD 13.08 million for the first nine months of this year.The recovery from last year’s loss of USD 19.33 million booked in the same period was driven mainly from the reversal of the fleet revaluation loss and profit from sale of non-core assets, the company said.The company has a fleet of 16 ships, including 12 MR product tankers and four Handysizes.