The ANU divestment decision has led to legal action, as
Sandfire Resources announced they have filed proceedings against investor
consultancy firm CAER.
ANU used the services of CAER to provide ESG (Environment,
Social, Governance) assessment of their investment portfolio, which resulted in
divestment from seven companies including Sandfire on grounds that they were “not
socially responsible and doing harm”, according to ANU vice-chancellor Ian
Sandfire CEO Karl Simich said he was unsuccessful in seeking a
formal retraction of press releases issued by CAER on the 19th and
20th of October, which were purported to misrepresent the research
methodology followed by CAER in preparing corporate profiles for the ANU.
However, Australian Mining understands that the press releases in question did not refer to Sandfire, and that CAER removed them shortly after Sandfire raised their concerns.
CAER chief executive Duncan Paterson spoke with Australian Mining earlier this month and explained that the
research carried out was part of a general research service provided by CAER
which utilises the UK-based Ethical Investment Research Service (EIRIS).
“One of the key pieces of misinformation out there about the
ANU decision is that the research was in some way tailored or commissioned to
assess those companies, that’s not the way we do things,” Patterson said.
ANU purchased an off-the-shelf ESG rating system from CAER, according to Patterson.
“We are a non-partisan and independent organisation – we do
not publish blacklists, we do not advocate for divestment.”
Patterson also said that CAER has been engaging positively with other companies divested by the ANU, including Iluka Resources.
“I think theyre reasonably experienced in the way investors
are asking these sorts of [ESG] questions,” he said.
Neither Sandfire or the ANU have been prepared to comment
further on the issue, despite requests for interview.