SRI Index encourages companies to improve transparency

November 28, 2013


 

Jse’s 2013 SRI Index Annual Review Results

Johannesburg, 27 November 2013: The number of companies fulfilling the requirements to be part of the Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) index fell to 72 in 2013 (2012: 76), as the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) continued to raise the bar for index constituents. To improve corporate transparency, only publicly available information was considered in the JSE’s 9th annual SRI Index review; up to last year, companies could submit data that was not publicly available.

This year’s SRI Index review saw six corporates coming up tops, which included members of the mining, food producers, healthcare, household goods, banking and mobile telecoms sectors. “Congratulations to this year’s best performers, who affirm that South African companies are committed to being transparent in applying ESG principles in business practice, and meeting the growing investor demands for transparency in the way companies manage their sustainability impacts,” says Corli le Roux, the JSE’s SRI Index Head.

In another move in the index’s evolution, the index this year was broadened to include small-cap companies, with all 157 companies in the FTSE/JSE All Share Index being assessed for the first time (last year, 108 companies were assessed). Of the 157, just less than half of the total constituents met the index requirements relating to their environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies, management practices and reporting. The higher number of companies assessed automatically combined with the more stringent disclosure requirements explain the drop in the percentage of companies qualifying this year, from 70% in 2012.

“Despite only six small caps qualifying for index inclusion, small cap companies fared better than anticipated. Several small caps came very close to making it while some from this group, reviewed for the first time, did not have the resources to participate actively this year,” says Le Roux. “However, after assessing these companies for the first time, we are really encouraged with the strides that some are making, and have a good sense for where to focus our engagement going forward.”

For investors, the SRI Index can help those aiming to pick companies with a longer term horizon who are managing their risks responsibly. “It is an accolade that over 90% of companies assessed this year meet corporate governance criteria,” says Le Roux. “While the past experience that the environmental pillar remains the most challenging for companies has persisted, the social area also saw a decline in performance this year, mostly due to insufficient disclosure. With companies looking for guidance in these areas, we hope that this year’s index process will assist and we are confident to see improvements in these areas in future years.”

The research was carried out on behalf of the JSE by global investment research provider EIRIS (with their local partner the Centre for Corporate Governance in Africa at the University of Stellenbosch Business School).

In the 2013 SRI Index review

  • 157 companies were assessed (2012: 108)
  • 72 of the companies assessed qualified for the SRI Index (2012: 76)
  • 5 companies are in the index for the first time, three of which were assessed for the first time in 2013
  • The index comprises 35 Top 40 companies, 31 Mid Cap companies and 6 Small Cap companies
  • 6 companies have been identified as best performers (2012: 10)
  • Similar to 2011 and 2012 the strongest performance has been demonstrated by Top 40 companies with 87% of them meeting entry level requirements.

Sectoral performance

  • The Life insurance sector is the only sector with 100% of companies in the sector making into the index this year
  • Other well performing sectors include General Industrials with 83% of these companies meeting the index criteria and Banking with 71%
  • Mining companies again performed well with 78% making it into the Index this year. The mining sector accounts for 20.8% of the total number of companies in the Index (18% in 2012)

Individual research areas

  • The environmental and social requirements of the Index each shows a 65% success rate by all companies assessed in 2013
  • Companies still show the strongest performance in governance areas with 90% of companies meeting the overall requirements here (98% in 2012)
  • 56% of the total number of companies assessed have met the requirements for climate change

-ENDS-

About JSE Limited
As South Africa’s only full service securities exchange, the JSE connects buyers and sellers in five different financial markets, namely equities, equity derivatives, commodity derivatives, currency derivatives and interest rate instruments. The JSE Ltd offers the investor a truly first world-class trading environment, with world class technology, surveillance and settlement in an emerging market context. It is amongst the top 20 largest equities exchanges in terms of market capitalisation in the world.

For further information, please visit www.jse.co.za  

ISSUED BY:
Victoria Williams / Mari Blumenthal
H+K Strategies
Tel: +27 11463 2198
Email: victoria.williams@hkstrategies.co.za  / mari.blumenthal@hkstrategies.co.za  

ON BEHALF OF:
Corli le Roux
Head of SRI Index and Sustainability
JSE Limited
Email: CorliLR@jse.co.za