概览

一家公司做一名充满责任感的全球公民不仅具有公益意义,而且其对社会的贡献正日益被视为企业长期成功和可持续发展的必备因素。毫无疑问,企业的经济效益不仅取决于员工的卓越才能和努力工作,也将同样有赖于客户、供应商、贷款人和邻舍对其社会责任履行情况的信任。

因此,投资者如今正积极从公司处理下列议题的表现来衡量其业务计划:

  • 气候变化,包括投资面临的气候相关威胁(如极端气候事件和资源稀缺),以及替代能源和可持续技术带来的机遇
  • 全球人权,包括公司供应链中的劳动条件
  • 薪酬性别差距和工作场所的多样性
  • 政治捐款
  • 可持续发展

这些考量(加上其他因素)共同构成了一系列名为“环境、社会及企业管治”(ESG)的活动。近年来,ESG的实施和使用大幅增长。有统计显示,多达三分之二的机构投资者正在使用ESG作为一项投资筛选标准。

许多机构都觉得难以准确把握ESG的范围和制定相应的法律及其他策略。自ESG的概念正式诞生以来,孖士打一直在协助客户解决ESG相关问题。再加上本所有自己的企业社会责任承诺,我们能够很好地帮助客户采取步骤,使其更加吸引那些寻找具有社会责任感的企业的投资者。我们有一支统筹运作的法律专家团队,负责处理各种与ESG风险因素和机会有关的事宜。这些专家来自众多不同的学科,能向客户提供全面综合的法律意见。他们处理的事宜既涵盖早已存在的报告义务,也包括新出现的报告责任,还包括投资者面临的相关信托义务的范围。

本所律师帮助客户开发和整合他们的ESG管理系统,使之成为其整体投资策略不可或缺的组成部分,并达到投资者所要求的标准。我们就上市公司的企业管治要求提供法律意见,并在适当的情况下将ESG问题纳入我们的法律尽职调查报告中。

我们就ESG的全部三个组成部分为客户提供运营方面的建议。孖士打追踪资产管理公司、保险公司、银行等各类金融机构,并就影响金融服务监管规则的ESG因素提供咨询服务,这些规则包括《金融工具市场指令II》、《另类投资基金管理人指令》、《可转让证券集合投资计划指令》、《保险销售指令》的拟议修订,以及拟议的《投资公司指令》和《投资公司条例》。

环境

融资

投资者已经注意到,平均而言,ESG投资的回报比其他投资组合高出2%。我们协助金融机构和借款人处理各种ESG事宜,包括:建立ESG管理系统,制定ESG行动计划,伦敦证券交易所的相关企业管治要求,对交易进行环境尽职调查等。我们经常向借款人就国际金融公司(IFC)的“赤道原则”以及亚洲开发银行和其他发展金融机构的要求提供咨询。

此外,本所律师在替代能源领域富有经验,曾协助发行人设计和执行绿色债券发行方案,旨在为可再生能源项目筹资。我们还曾就《京都议定书》下的碳信用制度提供法律意见。

我们也曾向多家国际非政府机构和政府发展机构就其与联合国绿色气候基金签署的认证主协议提供法律服务。

国际贸易

孖士打就自由贸易协定(FTA)(如欧盟与第三国之间的FTA)中的贸易和可持续发展相关条款的影响提供咨询。这些协定越来越多地包含保护签约国环境的条款。例如,《日本与欧盟经济伙伴关系协定》是第一个在内容中明确提及《巴黎协定》的自由贸易协定。

我们还向可再生能源领域的公司提供与贸易有关的法律意见。例如,协助他们倡导适用于风力涡轮机等环保产品的较低的关税税率。

房地产

我们帮助房地产客户最大限度地降低与房地产资产买卖或租赁有关的环境责任风险。孖士打每年处理数以百计的房地产交易,期间会对国内和国际交易进行环境尽职调查。这些可能引发环境关切的交易包括合并、收购、贷款、租赁、定制建造和融资等。

我们与环境顾问及客户的内部环境专员合作,以识别和量化潜在的环境责任,然后以能够保护客户的方式设计并记录交易。

例如,在处理某棕地项目地块的收购交易时,本所律师帮助评估任何可能发生的污染的性质和程度、估算补救成本并确定补救后的潜在回报。如果项目进行,我们会与业主、租户、开发商、环境顾问、贷方、保险商、监管机构和其他法律顾问协调,以制定可提供最大回报和保护的法律策略。

监管

孖士打擅长处理各种环境监管挑战、合规、许可和执法相关事宜。我们的律师经常与客户合作,以获取美国环保机构对项目的许可或对许可证修订的批准,并协助客户遵守以下美国环境法规:《清洁空气法案》(包括第五章许可证)、《清洁水法案》、《资源保护和恢复法案》(RCRA)、《综合环境响应、赔偿和责任法案》(CERCLA)、《有毒物质控制法案》等。

重组、破产及清算

孖士打向贷款人就环境问题对其借款人的影响提供重组/破产方面的支持。我们还向不良资产购买者就气候变化对该等资产的潜在负面影响提供并购方面的法律服务。

社会

企业架构设计

在深入了解客户的企业使命并给予尊重之后,孖士打会帮助社会企业发展成更加复杂和更具商业性的机构,令其既对投资者具有吸引力,又能忠于其核心价值观。

雇佣及福利

我们就员工健康和安全问题以及雇员401(k)计划对社会责任基金的投资提供建议。

金融

根据汇丰银行近期关于ESG政策的一份报告,财务回报是将ESG纳入投资决策过程的头号驱动因素——有48.4%的投资者将此列为最大考量。社会影响力融资正持续快速成长,而在此过程中,这种类型的融资开始变得像是传统商业型风险投资和私募股权融资,同时仍然保持对“多重底线”(multiple bottom line)的尊重。孖士打与扶贫协商小组(CGAP)合作开发了用于小额信贷领域私募股权投资构建及文件编制的领先形式。我们还曾就小额信贷史上一些最成功的私募股权投资提供法律意见,也曾帮助该等机构设计和记录一些最大型和最先进的结构性债务工具。

除了直接的社会影响力融资外,证券化和结构性工具融资将继续为社会金融行业提供颇具潜力的资金来源。作为世界领先的证券化律所之一(我们参与了几乎所有类型资产的证券化交易),本所具有独特的优势来向这一市场的所有参与者提供最尖端的法律意见。

国际贸易

孖士打就旨在加强劳工权利的自由贸易协定条款提供法律服务,其中包括国际劳工组织公约中的标准和条款。

监管

孖士打向银行就其在《美国社区再投资法案》下的义务提供法律意见,该法案要求银行将一定的资源用于为中低收入客户服务。

企业管治

本所律师向公司就各种上市规则下的董事责任提供咨询,还协助公司建立公开论坛来让股东讨论ESG价值,即企业管治的社会影响,如董事会的多元化等议题。

此外,我们向上市公司就其日常企业管治事宜提供法律服务,其中包括:政策和文件(如:关于合规、道德伦理、可转让证券、关联方交易的政策,行为准则,20-F表格,若干司法管辖区的相关表格)的起草、审查和更新;与主管证券委员会的联络(涉及行政程序及就公司法事宜的一般咨询);协助向主管证券委员会提交文件以及公司法要求的其他信息。 

ESG Snapshot: COVID-19
ESG Snapshot: Q1 2020
ESG Snapshot: Q4 2019

执业经验

Environmental

Social

Governance

 

Environmental Experience

Environmental Regulatory

  • Advising a foreign embassy to the EU on the content, practical implementation and expected implications of the EU Plastics Strategy and related measures.
  • Successfully represented 14 major industry groups in challenging the legality of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s 2015 regulation defining “the waters of the United States” within the meaning of the Clean Water Act (CWA). We served as lead counsel and obtained certiorari over the United States’ opposition and prevailed 9-0 on the merits of the issue of where challenges to EPA’s “Waters of the U.S.” rule may be litigated.
  • Advised a leading financial information services, news and media company on issues arising out of carbon emissions trading, legal framework, implementation models and development of climate exchanges in China and also on issues arising out of PRC environmental rules and regulations including China RoHS and WEEE directives.
  • Advising multiple clients in the acquisition of brownfield project sites, evaluating the nature and extent of any possible contamination, estimating the cost of remediation and defining the potential return if remediated. Where projects proceed, we coordinate with landlords, tenants, developers, environmental consultants, lenders, insurance providers, regulatory agencies and other legal counsel to create a legal strategy that provides the greatest return and protection.

Safeguarding the Environment

  • Advising one of the world’s leading apparel brands on the proposed establishment of a joint venture in Asia. The JV partner was a well-known worldwide organization that helps collect waste plastics and process them into environmentally friendly products that can be used for clothing. One of the key purposes of the JV was to establish suitable controls over collection practices.
  • Assisting a multinational Australian-based mining conglomerate in understanding and addressing the exposure of its directors, officers and members of relevant committees to potential environmental liabilities in cases of environmental incidents. This included the planning and development of ESG directives to better address environmental liability risks.
  • Assisted the company in charge of the largest Brazilian hydroelectric power plant in assessing the status of implementation and recommended adjustments to several projects for managing socio-environmental impacts caused by the plant’s reservoir operation.

Climate Change

  • Advising on a range of Emissions Reduction Purchase Agreements (ERPAs) in respect of CDM and JI projects under the Kyoto Protocol, including in respect of CDM Programs of Activities, advance payment mechanisms, standard switching language and option provisions.
  • Advising on a broad array of renewable energy financing transactions, green loans and green bond issues of the type that can form part of a company's carbon reduction strategy.
  • Representing an industry trade organization in investigating, evaluating and responding to climate change litigation.
  • Advising a global organization on the implementation of benchmarking under the EU ETS Directive, including providing legal opinions and engaging in detailed discussions with the European Commission.
  • Advising a Brazil-headquartered global mining company on PRC regulatory and policy developments on climate change, emission reduction and renewable energy.
  • Representing a diversified chemicals manufacturer in efforts to develop climate change legislation. Our work in this area has included activity on both comprehensive and focused initiatives.
  • Representing a US-based fund in the formation of a fund-of-funds that invests in private equity funds that adhere to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. For this client, we also reviewed the fund documentation and policies and practices of the target funds to assess compliance with the UN goals.

Land and Community Rights

Enhancing rural development and livelihoods is another important element of environmental management. Mayer Brown lawyers have been active in sustainability initiatives involving rural development, environmental protection and supply chain management, including by:

  • Assisting a major Brazilian sugarcane and biofuels company with several ESG challenges pertaining to its operations, including as to the legal implications of moving to 100 percent mechanized sugarcane harvesting, eliminating the use of fire and manual labor.
  • Counseling a Brazilian client in dealing with environmental and social consequences of a major fire in one of its fuel distribution plants, which impacted nearby communities and entailed settlement negotiations with several stakeholders (public prosecutors, environmental agencies and residents’ associations).
  • Advising a client on the land, environmental, town planning and construction aspects of a pilot co-combustion plant project involving the incineration of waste and the recycling of the end product into building materials in Hong Kong.

Green Bonds

  • Assisted Georgia Renewable Power in the $525 million of term project financing arranged by AMP Capital for GRP's 2 (60 MW each) biomass power plants in Franklin and Madison, GA. The financing was certified as a green loan by Kestrel Verifiers.
  • Acted as lenders’ counsel in connection with the closure of the first US sustainable use-of-proceeds syndicated subscription finance facility for the KKR Global Impact Fund. Standard Chartered Bank acted as sustainability coordinator and co-lead arranger, and Morgan Stanley acted as administrative agent and co-lead arranger.
  • Represented the underwriters in a public offering of $500 million 2.45 percent senior notes due 2026 and issued by Starbucks Corporation. This transaction marked the first-ever US corporate sustainability bond, which raises capital for projects with a mix of social and environmental benefits.
  • Represented Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) on a $1.2 billion offering of green bonds led by CIBC World Markets Inc. and RBC. This is the first green bond sold by a pension fund globally. This transaction was a record size for a single green bond transaction in Canada according to Bloomberg data. Sold via the CPPIB Capital Inc. unit, the 10-year bonds were sold at a spread of 71 basis points over similar-maturity federal government bonds and offer a 3 percent coupon.
  • Represented Citigroup, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley as underwriters in a public offering of $1.75 billion in auto loan-backed notes issued by the Toyota Auto Receivables 2014-A Owner Trust. This transaction marks the first-ever green bond in the auto finance market, and the proceeds of the offering will be used to finance new Toyota and Lexus gas-electric hybrid or alternative fuel powertrain vehicles that meet certain green standards.
  • Represented the investors in connection with the issuance of an investment grade bond of $64.75 million to refinance debt for the 50 MW La Jacinta solar park in Uruguay.
  • Represented Morgan Stanley and MUFG as underwriters in a public offering of ¥85 billion 0.372% senior notes due 2024 and issued by Starbucks Corporation. This transaction marked the first-ever sustainability bond issued in the domestic Japanese market.
  • Represented the noteholders on the private placement of approximately $135.8 million in green bonds, investment-grade rated project bonds issued to partially re-finance the 70 MW Campo Palomas wind energy project in Uruguay. This deal was named “Project Finance Deal of the Year” by Bonds & Loans in 2017.
  • Advised Unicredit Bank AG and other banks on the issuance of a £500 million Green Mortgage Pfandbriefe by Berlin Hyp AG under its debt issuance program.

 

Social Experience

We advise on a wide range of matters relating to business and human rights. (For more on our experience in this area, see our Business & Human Rights page.) In addition, we have:

  • Represented Vakifbank on its issue of €750,000,000 of Sustainability Notes, the first-ever offering of a sustainability bond by a Turkish commercial bank, advising the client on its Use of Proceeds (UoP) disclosure for its prospectus and marketing materials, ESG-related investor due diligence, ESG related representations and warranties for the subscription agreement and listing on Euronext Dublin’s Green Bond Segment.  The net proceeds of the issue of the Sustainability Notes are to be applied by Vakifbank for green and / or social projects. 
  • Represented Novartis AG on an offering of €1.85 billion sustainability-linked bonds by Novartis Finance S.A., guaranteed by Novartis AG. The €1,850,000,000 0.000% Sustainability-Linked Notes due 2028 were listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and were the first-ever sustainability-linked bonds in the healthcare sector, the first-ever sustainability-linked bonds incorporating “social” targets, with bondholders entitled to receive a higher amount of interest if Novartis fails to meet its targets for expanding access to its innovative medicines and addressing key global health challenges, as well as only the second-ever sustainability-linked bond since the publication by the International Capital Markets Association (ICMA) of its Sustainability-Linked Bond Principles in June 2020. 
  • Advised LeapFrog Investments, a leading social impact investor focusing on Asia and Africa, in connection with its investment in Series B Preferred Shares of PT PasarPolis Indonesia, one of Indonesia’s first and leading insurtech companies. This was one of the top 10 insurtech transactions globally in 2020 (Insurtech Report).
  • Advised a leading international development finance institution with respect to its investment in a financial institution based in Thailand operating in the high-growth segments of microfinance and micro-SME loans and providing financial services to small businesses, traders and other self-employed individuals who have historically had limited access to bank loans.
  • Advised FMO (the Dutch development bank), Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO) and Dragon Capital Group on the auction process and strategic sale of their collective 67 percent shareholdings in PRASAC Microfinance Institution, Cambodia's largest microfinance institution, with more than US$1.3 billion in assets. The transaction closed in March 2017 and was recognized as being one of the most innovative transactions in 2017.
  • Advised clients on using AI legally and ethically. We have advised and provided training sessions on the potential use cases for AI in their organizations, the broader international legislative and policy landscape on the use of AI, the challenges and key issues that typically have to be addressed to ensure the legal and ethical use of AI and the steps to take and the controls to put in place to address these issues.
  • Advised a major Norwegian mining company in navigating ESG issues connected with its operations in Brazil, involving negotiations with “quilombolas” (slaves’ descendants) and other stakeholders (public prosecutors, environmental and regulatory agencies). The negotiations seek to put an end to disputes with and among the quilombolas so that such disputes do not jeopardize the renewal of client’s environmental licenses (social licensing).
  • Assisted a multinational Brazilian-based meat-processing conglomerate in improving and implementing ESG guidelines focused on preventing the acquisition of cattle from noncompliant suppliers (deforestation, human rights protection).
  • Represented FMO on its divestment from a Sri Lankan microcredit institution.
  • Advised FMO as international counsel on bilateral and syndicated financings to microcredit institutions in Vietnam, Mongolia, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Sri Lanka.
  • Represented Partech International in its investment in EcoVadis SAS, a leading platform that helps companies monitor suppliers' environmental, social and ethical practices across global supply chains.

Governance Experience

  • Advising leading global insurers on ESG-related exposures of their financial institution policyholders.
  • Counseling companies on directors’ duties required under various exchange listing standards, as well as the development of open forums for shareholders to discuss ESG values—including the social aspects of their corporate governance, such as diversity in boards.
  • Counselling both public and private companies to establish and maintain a comprehensive governance framework, including as to key sustainability and environmental priorities.
  • Supporting the development of investor relations strategies and shareholder communications and outreach activities.
  • Advising company boards of directors and management with respect to addressing ESG-related shareholder proposals, shareholder engagement efforts, proxy advisory firm recommendations, institutional investor issues related to ESG matters, and ESG disclosure requirements and trends.