The EAM Investment Board gives a structured form to the ongoing and responsive
dialogue with and among sustainability research agencies. The Board provides the
opportunity for the consultation process between own research and external research
to take place. It also discusses rating details, the ESG‘s assessment of the IPOs of new
issuers and sustainability issues in general.
Global Sporting Events
Suppose they gave an Investment Board meeting and nobody came. That is the situation we were faced with when
writing this ESG Letter. Having decided to go for the topic of major sporting events, we thought we had struck gold.
After all, large events of that kind affect all dimensions of E, S, and G (see editorial).
Oxford Dictionaries define
responsibility as follows (excerpt):
1. The state or fact of having a duty to deal
with something or of having control over
someone: women bear children and take
responsibility for childcare
2. The state or fact of being accountable
or to blame for stomething: the group has
claimed responsibility for a string of
murders; 2.1 [in singular] (responsibility
to/towards) A moral obligation to behave correctly towards or in respect of: indivi-
duals have a responsibility to control their behaviour
Our premise was abundantly simple:
FIFA World Cup Final or Olympics = big business = companies. If one wanted to organise these events in a more
sustainable fashion, one would have to start with the companies involved.
As exclusive partners, sponsors hold merchandising and other rights (temporary and local monopolies, tax relief)
Companies benefit directly from investments in connection with the construction of stadiums, equipment,
transportation infrastructure, and catering
Airlines, TV manufacturers, and the tourism industry benefit indirectly from such events
Unfortunately our brilliant idea turned out to be fool’s gold. In conversations we had with our four ESG rating
agencies we got the clear feedback that the rating of such mega events was not straightforward: the host of these
events is most often a government-related, local organisation, whereas the organiser is a private association
(FIFA, UEFA, Olympic Committee). Is therefore for example Adidas responsible for the actions of FIFA, according
to the research company RepRisk “the world’s most controversial organisation”? And what’s more, some information
is simply not available. For example, who is building the stadiums in Qatar? This lack of background information
makes it almost impossible to tie down corporate responsibility.
At the end of our period of scrutinising the issue of major sporting events, we feel a bit like after the ABS crisis.
Back then risk was continuously divided until it had allegedly disappeared. Something similar seems to be going
on with mega events. Responsibility is privatised, anonymised, delegated, and divided down to a degree where
at the end the result is big business without responsibilities.
Surprisingly some companies have made more progress in this context than the rating agencies. Indeed, several
firms reacted to our engagement Engagement within one day. Apparently these companies were aware of the
fact that they were being associated with the respective sporting event and that this situation came with a certain
degree of responsibility. We expect this approach to prevail in the coming years.
So far „major sporting events“ have not played a specific role in the analysis of rating agencies and are thus not
weighted in the EAM evaluation system. In order to increase awareness, Erste Asset Management has started a
discussion process with its rating agencies.