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A record number of women are leading Fortune 500 companies, but there is "still a way to go," according to the co-founder of 100 Women in Finance.
The executive chairman of aircraft leasing firm Air Lease , which has 150 of Boeing's grounded 737 MAX jet on order, on Monday called on the U.S. manufacturer to drop the "damaged" MAX brand to avoid it undermining the plane's value.
BT , Danone , Microsoft and Sony are among 178 companies with top marks in the latest global ranking of transparency and action on climate change. Japan and the U.S. were the countries with the headquarters of the most 'A List' companies individually, while regionally, Europe as a bloc was home to the highest number. Companies are coming under pressure from customers and investors to step up efforts to help slow climate change in accordance with the 2015 Paris climate agreement to phase out greenhouse gas emissions by shifting away from fossil fuels.
(Bloomberg) -- China will curtail its consumption of single-use plastic in an effort to tackle a soaring amount of the discarded material that has quickly become one of the world’s most pressing environmental crises.Non-degradable plastic bags will be banned in places such as supermarkets and shopping malls in major cities, as well as for the country’s ubiquitous food delivery services by the end of this year, according to a plan released by the National Development and Reform Commission on Sunday.“China is catching up with the rest of world,” said Leiliang Zheng, an analyst at BloombergNEF. “The EU is the leader in solving the plastic crisis and has already passed a law to widely ban single-use plastic items in 2019, and many developing countries in Africa and Southeast Asia are also tracking the problem.”About 300 million tons of plastic waste is generated each year, and 60% of that has been dumped in either landfills or the natural environment, according to a United Nations report. Whether it ends up in the ocean, a river or on land, plastic’s durability and resistance to degradation make it nearly impossible to completely break down, causing it to persist for centuries.Regulations on single-use plastic are on the rise globally, according to a BloombergNEF report. France banned the use of plastic plates, cups, and cotton buds starting Jan. 1 with the goal of phasing out all single-use items by 2040. Thailand and New Zealand have both placed restrictions on or banned single-use plastic bags. An Indonesian ban comes into effect this June.Many countries in Africa have implemented limits on the manufacture of plastic or attempted to restrict the consumption of the material through levies. Still, India held off imposing a single-use plastic ban last year over fear the policy would trigger an economic slowdown, according to BNEF’s Zheng.Taking MeasuresThe use of plastic in China has risen as online shopping and food delivery apps have become part of everyday life, even in rural areas. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which organizes a 24-hour shopping marathon every year, has been criticized for shipping 1 billion packages in a single day.The new policy may increase the costs for e-commerce platforms that will need to adjust their packaging strategies, according to Zheng, who added that alternatives to plastic such as biodegradable materials or recycled plastics are still more expensive.China will ban non-degradable, single-use plastic straws nationwide by the end of 2020, it said, with the goal of reducing the “intensity of consumption” of such plastic utensils by takeout services in urban areas by 30% by 2025. By 2022, some delivery services in major cities including Beijing and Shanghai will be forbidden from using non-degradable packaging, with the ban extended to the whole country by 2025.While China’s regulations are likely to slow the flow of plastic usage and improve the country’s recycling rate, the International Energy Agency said the initiative could be a headwind for the oil industry, which is expecting plastics and petrochemicals to comprise half of its long-term demand growth through 2050.Several global oil majors, including Saudi Arabian Oil Co. and Exxon Mobil Corp., are investing in petrochemical plants in China to tap into that growing demand. Packaging accounts for more than a third of current plastics consumption.“The new policy will suppress demand for plastics, a potential risk for oil and chemical companies,” Zheng said.\--With assistance from Dan Murtaugh and Heesu Lee.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Lucille Liu in Beijing at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: John Liu at firstname.lastname@example.org, Aaron Clark, Jason RogersFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- A top-performing Morgan Stanley fund is betting on cash-rich consumption-focused stocks in Asia, especially China, to manage risks in market cycles this year.Sign up for Next China, a weekly email on where the nation stands now and where it's going next.The Wall Street firm’s Asia Opportunity Fund, which focuses on equities in the region excluding Japan, returned 44% in the past year, beating 99% of its peers, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The portfolio focuses on undervalued companies with low debt or net cash on their balance sheets, many of which are found in consumer sectors, said Kristian Heugh, who has been co-managing the fund since its inception in 2016.“We seek to protect investors’ capital by focusing on high quality companies with sustainable competitive advantages and purchasing them at a discount to our estimate of intrinsic value,” Heugh said. “We remain vigilant in selling names approaching our estimate of their intrinsic value and redeploying that capital in what we believe are the next big ideas.”China is the $1.5 billion fund’s largest-weighted country, accounting for 57.7% of assets as of end-December. Heugh said the world’s second-largest economy will remain a key focus this year despite its slower growth in 2019.Asian consumer stocks provide “high returns on capital, low leverage and quality growth prospects,” Hong Kong-based Heugh said. The region offers “the highest ratio” of high-quality companies that have generated both 15% return on invested capital and 15% revenue growth over the past three years, he added. The MSCI Asia ex Japan Index has gained 3.4% so far this year. With more than 800 million people emerging from poverty since market reforms began in 1978, China is an especially attractive hunting ground for consumption names, Heugh said. Key themes he’s looking at include better quality food and drink as well as access to Internet services, health care and better education opportunities for children.As a result, the Asia Opportunity Fund’s largest positions in China focus on the education, food, beverages, restaurants and travel sectors. Food-delivery giant Meituan Dianping, distiller Kweichow Moutai Co. and soy sauce maker Foshan Haitian Flavouring & Food Co. were among the top contributors to the fund’s peer-beating performance last year.The top five performers are trading at an average valuation of more than 50 times earnings estimates for 2020, compared with about 14 times for the MSCI Asia excluding-Japan Index. All have net cash on their balance sheets.While only about 1% of the portfolio is allocated to Southeast Asia due to expensive valuations, its Asean revenue exposure is higher thanks to investments in key regional Internet stocks Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Naver Corp.“Alibaba owns Southeast Asia’s largest e-commerce platform Lazada, Tencent is the largest gaming company in this region, and Naver owns Line which is popular among Southeast Asian mobile Internet users,” Heugh said.(Updates with MSCI AC Asia ex Japan Index performance in fifth paragraph. An earlier version of the story corrected the name of the fund)To contact the reporter on this story: Ishika Mookerjee in Singapore at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Lianting Tu at firstname.lastname@example.org, Kurt SchusslerFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Sign up here to receive the Davos Diary, a special daily newsletter that will run from Jan. 20-24.Emmanuel Macron’s pre-Davos summit for tech executives will hold some goodies for startups.In the third edition of his “Choose France” summit on Monday, timed to catch global CEOs in Paris on their way to the Swiss Alps’ World Economic Forum, the French president will detail measures in his 2020 budget that have improved stock options for startups in France.Macron will also plug a revamped visa regime that will give fast-track papers to tech workers for French or foreign companies and a new benchmark index, the French Tech 120, to promote the nation’s most promising ventures.Snap’s Evan Spiegel, who was given French nationality in 2018, EU digital Commissioner Thierry Breton, Netflix Inc.‘s Reed Hastings, Google’s You Tube CEO Susan Wojcicki, Lime’s Joe Kraus and other leaders from Mexico, Nigeria, Sweden, Turkey and the U.K. will attend the forum in Versailles.Entrepreneurs and executives at some of Europe’s most successful technology startups have been urging local governments to change laws to make employee stock options more attractive, in order to better compete with Silicon Valley. Macron, his Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, Digital Minister Cedric O and 17 ministers will present the government’s latest measures.In November 2018, about 30 chief executives of companies including iZettle AB, Funding Circle Ltd., Supercell Oy, TransferWise Ltd., Blablacar and U.S.-based Stripe Inc., signed an open letter saying a patchwork of different rules in various European countries makes it complicated and costly for employers to dole out stock options.The French 2020 budget law, voted late last year and enacted on Jan. 1, has two major measures already to make stock options of startups more attractive. First the conditions of the so-called BSPCE, an employee shareholding tool equivalent to a stock options, have been sweetened: they will get a discount compared to the price investors paid at the last fund raising.Also, employees of foreign startups with a base in France will be able to get stock options calculated on the parent company’s performance, not just the French branch, minister Cedric O unveiled in a statement late last year, as he said France seeks to attract more tech workers and companies.“What France has done is fantastic, but we really need a pan-European solution,” Martin Mignot, Partner at Index Ventures, which has stakes in BlablaCar, told Bloomberg. “Currently, startups face the same problems every time they expand into a new country. Talk to any entrepreneur and they tell you it’s madness, it is slowing them down and it is putting them at a disadvantage to large companies.”Macron has attempted to lure more investors to France ever since his years as an economy minister in 2014, via taxes, visas, benchmark indexes, bilingual schools and the French way to welcome new comers.In September he created the “Next 40,” a listing of France’s top 40 startups with the strongest growth potential. While only a few of them are currently “unicorns,” with values topping $1 billion, the government said it expect more of them to scale.Read more: Napoleon, Chateaus on Display as France Seeks Venture CapitalOne of the key measures taken by Macron was a 30% flat tax on capital revenues from securities, savings, capital gains, and other sources. That measure got him into trouble with some of his citizens protesting against inequalities in the Yellow Vests movement that started in December 2018.The statistic institute Insee said the increase in inequality in 2018 was linked to a sharp rise in investment incomes, which benefited from the introduction of a flat tax the same year.Still, Macron has also toughened his stance on issues like taxes and privacy. He brought it up with Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook in his first months as president and repeatedly to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Macron is currently in a tug of war with U.S. President Donald Trump over his tax on digital giants.Amazon.com Inc., like other tech companies, will make their first payment of France’s new tax on digital giants in a few weeks. The government enacted a 3% levy on large tech groups that is retroactively effective from Jan. 1, 2019.(Updated with comment from Index ventures)\--With assistance from Natalia Drozdiak.To contact the reporter on this story: Helene Fouquet in Paris at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Giles Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org, Vidya RootFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Samsung Electronics Co. has appointed Taemoon Roh the head of its smartphone division, tasking a veteran executive with oversight of the world’s largest mobile devices business.Roh, who was formerly the unit’s No. 2 executive, will take over the top job from Koh Dong-Jin from Monday. Koh remains head of the Korean conglomerate’s IT and mobile communications division but hands the reins of smartphones over to a lieutenant credited with building up the marquee Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets. Roh, a two-decade veteran of Korea’s largest corporation, is regarded internally as an engineering maven who’s meticulous about phone features.Samsung’s shares climbed as much as 2.5% in Seoul. The largest maker of mobile phones, displays and memory chips shakes up its executive ranks each year, with the extent of the changes often correlated to how its businesses are doing. This month, the company reported preliminary earnings that showed operating income declining by about a third from a year earlier.Korea’s largest company is racing to secure an early lead in fifth-generation wireless smartphones as well as foldables, both of which will take centerstage during its annual Unpacked event in San Francisco in February. While it still sells more devices than any other brand, Samsung in recent years has come under assault from both long-time adversary Apple Inc. as well as new rivals from Huawei Technologies Co. to fellow Chinese names Oppo and Vivo.“Roh is known to be a person who expanded Samsung’s original design manufacturing policy for low- to mid-range smartphones,” said CIMB analyst Lee Dohoon. “Samsung may now gradually follow Apple in focusing on design and developments. Though it’s expanded outsourcing for production, Samsung will keep a tighter rein on quality control to protect its brands.”The Korean tech giant will try to keep expanding its market share in Asia and Europe this year while closest rival Huawei is struggling to protect its market share in the wake of Trump administration sanctions, Lee added.Read more: Samsung Profit Beats After Chip Prices Stage Comeback Samsung said Roh is taking the division’s helm at 52, using the Korean method of calculating age, although he was born in Sept. 1968 and would be 51 by a Western count.Regardless, that means he’ll be orchestrating things when Samsung unveils on Feb. 11 what’s expected to be a second foldable device that folds into a square. The company’s mainstream flagship device -- whose name is rumored to be the Galaxy S20, a change in naming scheme -- is also likely to be unveiled at that event.Its devices accounted for 54% of the global 5G smartphone market as of November 2019, after it shipped more than 6.7 million Galaxy 5G smartphones last year, the company has said. Separately, Huawei said last week that it shipped more than 6.9 million 5G phones in 2019.Roh will also assume responsibility for repairing the mobile division’s reputation. Under Koh’s leadership, Samsung suffered from major quality issues at least twice: In 2016, Samsung killed off the Note 7 for good after models tended to burst into flames. Last year, Samsung also had to delay the Galaxy Fold by several months after review models exhibited issues with displays that were easily peeled off. Those debacles were widely seen as a result of the company’s rushing phones to market to try and steal a march on Apple and Huawei.Away from smartphones, the chiefs of three key Samsung divisions -- semiconductors, consumer appliances and electronics and IT services -- remained the same. That ensures stability given vice chairman and heir apparent Jay Y. Lee is defending himself in court over graft allegations, raising the possibility of a potential leadership vacuum.Samsung also promoted several presidents in its latest restructuring including Kyungwhoon Cheun, who now heads networking.Read more: Behind Samsung’s $116 Billion Bid for Chip Supremacy(Updates with Roh’s age in the seventh paragraph)To contact the reporter on this story: Sohee Kim in Seoul at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at firstname.lastname@example.org, Edwin Chan, Colum MurphyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Sign up here to receive the Davos Diary, a special daily newsletter that will run from Jan. 20-24.Facebook Inc.’s Libra cryptocurrency starts 2020 looking no closer to release, with authorities in its base in Switzerland raising fresh questions about its suitability as a global currency.Swiss finance minister Ueli Maurer said on Dec. 27 in Bern that the country can’t approve Libra in its current form, telegraphing to Facebook that the product it wants to launch in Geneva isn’t going get a green light from regulators anytime soon.Maurer went further in an interview with Swiss broadcaster SRF that same day, saying the project “has failed” in its current form because the basket of currencies Libra proposed to back the digital currency haven’t been accepted by the issuing national banks.The blunt language marks a dramatic change in tone from the warm welcome Swiss regulators gave to Facebook in June when it chose Geneva as the project’s base. Back then, the social-networking giant paid homage to the city’s pedigree as a hub of international cooperation while Swiss officials raved about the “positive” signals it sent about Switzerland’s role in an “ambitious international project.”But after the Securities & Exchange Commission, U.S. and European politicians lined up to express concerns about currency sovereignty, Facebook’s recent record on misuse of data, and Libra’s potential as a magnet for financial criminals, Swiss officials began to change their tune.“As long as the SEC is concerned about Libra, saying it’s based on relatively new and unproven technology and could rival the U.S. dollar, other governments including the Swiss will take a wait and see approach,” said Nils Reimelt of Capco Digital, a financial services consulting company in Zurich.Libra also made a strategic error in not reaching out to Swiss bank regulator Finma about applying for a banking license before announcing its Geneva plans, Reimelt said. The Libra Association then decided to not include the safe-haven Swiss franc in the basket of currencies backing the cryptocurrency, creating further uncertainty, according to Reimelt.Swiss National Bank President Thomas Jordan voiced those concerns in a speech in September, without mentioning Libra explicitly. “If stable coins pegged to foreign currencies were to establish themselves in Switzerland, the effectiveness of our monetary policy could be impaired.”Money LaunderingFinma joined Jordan in sounding a note of caution, saying in September that Libra would be have to adopt “bank-like” rules on risk and apply the “highest international anti-money laundering standards.”Some governments and regulators have raised questions “that we take very seriously and are working hard to provide thoughtful answers,” the Libra Association said in a statement. “We are committed to a continuous and constructive dialogue” with them and “our objective remains to find the best way to launch a fast, secure and compliant international payment system.”Bertrand Perez, Libra’s chief operating officer is set to speak Monday at the Geneva Blockchain Congress. Facebook planned to launch Libra in 2020 but has since backed off on timing, with Perez saying in September that its introduction depends on discussions with regulators.“This is why indeed we cannot say that we won’t launch in 2020, or that we are certain to launch on a particular date in 2020,” he said.After Maurer’s December salvo, the Swiss government on Jan. 15 issued a more subtly-worded memo, insinuating that it might be more open to a rethink of the project. It will continue to monitor Libra, the council said, “in particular the form which Libra may take in the future.”“Switzerland is generally open to projects that reduce the cost of cross-border payment transactions and seek to promote financial inclusion,” the government said.That’s a clear signal to Libra, says Capco’s Reimelt, that “governments want to stay in control and Libra has to tweak their model and align to regulations to not become a threat.”To contact the reporter on this story: Hugo Miller in Geneva at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at firstname.lastname@example.org, Christopher ElserFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- ByteDance Inc. is preparing a major push into the mobile arena’s most lucrative market, a realm Tencent Holdings Ltd. has dominated for over a decade: games.Sign up for Next China, a weekly email on where the nation stands now and where it's going next.The world’s most valuable startup has rapidly built a full-fledged gaming division to spearhead its maiden foray into hardcore or non-casual games, according to people familiar with the matter. Over the past few months, ByteDance has quietly bought up gaming studios and exclusive title distribution rights. It’s embarked on a hiring spree and poached top talent from rivals, building a team of more than 1,000. Its first two games from the venture will be released this spring, targeting both local and overseas players, one person said.Commonly compared to Facebook Inc. because of its billion-plus users and sway over American teens via social media phenom TikTok, ByteDance is looking to expand its horizons. It started as a popular news aggregator with the Toutiao app in China before setting the world ablaze with short-form video sharing on TikTok and its Chinese twin app Douyin. Now it’s looking to go beyond cheap ads and develop recurring revenue streams by taking on the Tencent gaming goliath in the chase for coveted distribution rights.“Having fully established itself as a leader in short video with over one billion users across its apps, ByteDance is now building multiple game studios by acquiring experienced game developers and talent,” said Daniel Ahmad, analyst with Asia-focused gaming research firm Niko Partners. “Its massive global user base and investment in gaming could make it a big disruptor in the gaming space this year.”Read more: ByteDance Is Said to Weigh TikTok Stake Sale Over U.S. ConcernsGaming in China has long been a Tencent fortress, with Netease Inc. a distant second. But ByteDance might be the one company capable of upsetting that status quo, having already defied convention by surviving and flourishing outside the orbit of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent, who between them have locked up much of the country’s internet sphere. Toutiao is a key channel for Chinese game publishers to acquire new users, with 63 of the top 100 ad spenders among mobile games in 2019 devoting most of their ads to the news app, according to data tracked by Guangzhou-based researcher App Growing.Representatives for ByteDance, Tencent and Netease declined to comment for this story. Shares in Tencent went down as much as 0.6% during morning trading on Monday.Read more: Snap CEO Spiegel Says TikTok Could Grow Bigger Than InstagramOver the past few years, ByteDance has churned out several casual games that have grown popular with the help of its video platforms, but those quick hits made money mostly through ads. Its new foray into gaming involves a much bigger investment and is shaping up to be a major strategic shift, targeting more committed gamers who will splurge on in-game weapons, cosmetics and other perks.It could help the company diversify its sources of revenue at a time when the Chinese economy shows signs of slowing and TikTok draws scrutiny in the U.S. ByteDance is also testing a new paid music app in Asia, adding to its swelling portfolio of ventures. Steady revenue sources would help position ByteDance for an eventual initial public offering.While the move into serious gaming is very much at an embryonic stage, ByteDance is making up for its inexperience by poaching veteran staff from rivals, said the people, who asked not to be named because the plans are private. One of the gaming division’s creative teams is led by Wang Kuiwu, who joined from China’s Perfect World, a major game developer and esports tournament organizer. Yan Shou, ByteDance’s chief of strategy and investment, oversees operations, the people said. The unit runs independently from existing efforts to create casual mobile titles, they said.Read more: TikTok Owner Is Testing Music App in Bid for Next Global HitByteDance is making a global push that includes hiring publishing and marketing staffers based overseas, according to job descriptions viewed by Bloomberg News. One post seeks people to work with influencers and internal platforms to promote games, while another asks candidates to be responsible for “managing indie mobile game publishing projects throughout their life cycle.” This hiring spree is also evident in postings this month for more than a dozen game-related positions on Chinese career site Lagou.com, ranging from product managers to 3-D character designers based in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.Acquiring talent also means buying up studios wholesale. Game studios acquired by ByteDance over the past year include Shanghai Mokun Digital Technology and Beijing-based Levelup.ai, as shown in public company registration information. The company also hired the core developer team from a Netease outfit called Pangu Game, after China’s second-largest gaming firm canceled the studio’s existing projects, according to people familiar with the matter.ByteDance’s game pipeline will include massively multiplayer online games with Chinese fantasy elements, said two people. Its newly acquired studios have pedigree in the genre: Pangu Game’s 2017 hit Revelation is a PC online role-playing game where warriors and sorcerers slay Chinese mythological beasts, while Shanghai Mokun has created several similar titles since its founding in 2013.The challenge of invading Tencent’s turf will nevertheless be immense. Tencent has three of the world’s most popular multiplayer mobile titles in PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty: Mobile and Honour of Kings. They are the blueprint for games that are free to play but rich on in-game purchases -- which accounts for a huge swath of mobile revenues -- that rivals like ByteDance try to emulate. More broadly, Tencent’s locked in a billion-plus users across Asia into a WeChat app that mashes elements of payments, social media, on-demand services and entertainment.Read more: China Will Drive Mobile Spending to Record $380 Billion in 2020Tencent and Netease also enjoy the advantage of having long-established relationships with Chinese regulators, who in 2018 began a campaign to root out gaming addiction that drastically constricted the number and variety of games allowed to be published in the country. Tencent saw hundreds of billions of dollars wiped off its market value as a result and is still recovering. Getting into gaming potentially exposes ByteDance to more regulatory scrutiny domestically, even as it battles U.S. lawmakers’ accusations that TikTok can be used to spy on Americans.Still, ByteDance can’t call itself a true internet giant without a substantial presence in gaming. Last year, 72% of all consumer spending on mobile came in games, according to App Annie, and the market is fiercely competitive. ByteDance’s critical advantage is that it already has a vast and engaged audience among the all-important teenage demographic: it can leverage Douyin/TikTok to channel users toward its games. That mirrors the winning approach Tencent took more than a decade ago when it exploited the reach of its social media platforms to enter gaming. ByteDance will have to prove that the strategy still works.“Gaming is a strategic vertical for tech companies in China as it is a key way to generate additional revenue from a large audience,” Ahmad said. “While they may be able to develop a number of hit titles in the China market, we believe it will still be difficult for them to truly challenge Tencent.”(Updates with analyst comment from fourth paragraph)To contact the reporter on this story: Zheping Huang in Hong Kong at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at firstname.lastname@example.org, Edwin Chan, Vlad SavovFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- BlackRock Inc., the world’s largest asset manager, says it will cut exposure to companies linked to thermal coal, among other climate-friendly measures. It’s a powerful signal. Unfortunately, it only scratches the surface. If BlackRock CEO Larry Fink is serious about helping to eliminate coal while reshaping finance, his outfit can use its holdings of sovereign debt to tackle governments, too.Coal power generation has fallen steeply in Europe and the U.S. in the past year or so, thanks to cheap natural gas, higher carbon prices and green pressure. Yet in Asia, once you iron out some local peculiarities, demand for the black stuff remains remarkably resilient. That suggests that even if global appetite peaks soon, as most analysts estimate, it could well remain at high levels for years to come. Analysts at UBS Group AG estimated last July that on current trends the last coal-fired power station may close only in 2079. To blame are the likes of China, India and Vietnam. Their fleet is young, still growing and often state-backed; Western money managers selling out of public securities won’t change that. There is good news. BlackRock is an investment giant, with $7.4 trillion of assets under management, so Fink’s call to arms last week marks a significant move. Cutting off funds for coal producers and driving up their cost of capital is key to suffocating a sector that is the single largest cause of increased global temperatures.BlackRock’s strategic shift is also driven by self-interest. That’s encouraging, as such initiatives tend to outlast moral outrage. Heat from activists, like the BlackRock’s Big Problem campaign, helped, but Fink argues he is making sustainability the new standard because it makes financial sense. The surge of inflows into the firm’s environmentally friendly funds last week will encourage that view.The devil, as ever, is in the detail. BlackRock’s aim to divest thermal coal equity and debt will apply to its actively managed funds. Yet those amount to only under a third of the money it manages. As worrying is the threshold to be used to determine what has to go: The fund manager will sell out of any company where 25% of revenue or more is derived from thermal coal. That gets at narrowly focused producers like Australia’s Whitehaven Coal Ltd., but leaves untouched stakes in diversified heavyweights, like BlackRock’s 6% holding in Glencore Plc, the world’s top producer of seaborne thermal coal, or other sprawling conglomerates. It also tackles primarily miners, not utilities that consume the fuel.It’s possible to aim higher: Axa SA last year vowed to reduce its exposure to the thermal coal industry to zero by 2040.The bigger problem is that while such moves are necessary, they aren’t sufficient. That’s firstly because of the haven offered by private markets. If a large investment fund divests a stock or bond, or pressures companies into selling out of coal projects, what next? BlackRock investors may feel better, but will global production reduce overall? Quite possibly not. Will the world be greener? Also, possibly not, if the pit is sold to owners out of the public eye. Arguably, it may become harder to monitor. That suggests a more effective pressure point is demand, and that means tackling governments and state-backed firms still funding and supporting the fuel. Indeed, real impact will require a change in policy in Asian markets like Vietnam where coal is still a major employer and seen as a driver of economic growth. As a major investor in sovereign debt, even if much of it is in passive funds, BlackRock has enough leverage for meaningful dialogue at least.The challenge is significant. Consider China, which wants to reduce its reliance on coal. At least 200 million tons of coal capacity were ready to start production in 2019, while another 409 million tons of government-approved capacity are under construction, according to Bloomberg Intelligence numbers published last September. Together, that’s almost a quarter of China's up-and-running thermal coal capacity. In Indonesia, coal consumption may grow at the world’s fastest pace. Earlier this month, Jakarta ordered coal miners to slash production after record output last year. Prices immediately turned higher.Policy, then, is the lever to significantly reduce coal use in the region where it’s still growing: Asia. Go back to the UBS numbers. On current trends, the last coal-fired power station closes in six decades. But a red alert scenario where leaders accelerate closures would shutter the last plant in 2058, according to the bank, closer to the 2050 target set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.Indonesia’s tussle with JPMorgan Chase & Co. in 2017 — when Jakarta temporarily severed business ties over a negative research report — is a reminder of just how much emerging market governments care about perception. BlackRock can make that count. To contact the author of this story: Clara Ferreira Marques at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Matthew Brooker at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Clara Ferreira Marques is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering commodities and environmental, social and governance issues. Previously, she was an associate editor for Reuters Breakingviews, and editor and correspondent for Reuters in Singapore, India, the U.K., Italy and Russia.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
The PBoC left LPRs steady this morning, with some time likely needed to asses the impact of recent cuts and the phase 1 agreement.
U.S. bank JPMorgan Chase & Co said it plans to buy a building in central Paris to house up to 450 staff in coming years, as it relocates some services from London after Britain's exit from the European Union. The expansion is expected to make the French capital where it currently has 260 staff, its second-largest base in Europe behind London, which has 10,000 staff, JPMorgan said.