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Sep 07, 2017

T Rowe Price hires senior ESG research official

Institutional investors drive uptick in ESG-related shareholder proposals

T Rowe Price has hired Maria Elena Drew as director of research in responsible investing, amid growing interest in and attention to ESG issues among institutional investors in general. She joins from Goldman Sachs Asset Management (GSAM), where she worked for nine years as an equity analyst, portfolio manager and ESG specialist.

In her new role, Drew will ‘deepen the firm’s research on [ESG] considerations and focus on the continued incorporation of ESG analysis into the firm’s investment decisions,’ T Rowe Price says in a statement. ‘ESG considerations are increasingly important to many of the firm’s clients and prospects.’

Professionals say institutional investors, some of which have been beefing up their corporate governance teams, are the driving force behind a recent uptick in the number of and support for ESG-related shareholder proposals. The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research’s Proxy Monitor follows the 250 largest publicly traded companies by revenue in the US. It finds that among the 225 firms that held AGMs in the first half of the year, the most common type of shareholder proposal involved environmental concerns. There were 54 such proposals, double the total filed five years ago.

The average level of shareholder support for environmental proposals this year was 27 percent, up from 21 percent last year and 17 percent in 2015, according to the institute. Majorities of shareholders backed proposals pressing ExxonMobil, PPL Corporation and Occidental Petroleum to produce reports on how they will be affected by action taken to limit climate change.

Drew, who is based in London, will work with Donna Anderson, head of corporate governance, and T Rowe Price’s investment teams to develop and integrate an ESG framework across different locations and asset classes. Drew will report to Rob Sharps, group chief investment officer and co-head of global equity.

A spokesperson for GSAM did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Baltimore, Maryland-based T Rowe Price, which has roughly $927 billion in assets under management, is a signatory to responsible investing initiatives including Investor CDP and the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment.

Ben Maiden

Ben Maiden is the editor-at-large of Governance Intelligence, an IR Media publication, having joined the company in December 2016. He is based in New York. Ben was previously managing editor of Compliance Reporter, covering regulatory and compliance...