Ukraine puts ESG investors in the spotlight for a slew of Russian JVs


Photo by Daniel Öberg on Unsplash

The Financial Times’ (FT) Moral Money asked an interesting question the other day with respect to the economic frontlines of Russia’s war on Ukraine:

“What does the following list of companies have in common? Switzerland’s LafargeHolcim, Japan’s AEON Infrastructure Corporation, France’s Schneider Electric and Dalkia SA (part of EDF Group), Spain’s waste management company Urbaser, Germany’s wholesale-retailer Metro Cash & Carry, and Siemens Mobility, and Britain’s Aggreko group.”

The answer, it said, was that each one of them had “embarked on joint ventures with Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Russian Direct Investment Fund, in 2019, according to the RDIF website.

Back then, this was a sign of savvy investing, not sinister intent. France’s sovereign wealth fund, the Italian development institute Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, and British investment entity the United Green Group also began joint ventures, the FT pointed out.

What happens now to those JVs when the Russian invasion of Ukraine makes business dealings odious? It’s important to note the entities on the above list have not said anything at all. Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investors, who prize a firm’s collective conscientiousness over base profit basely earned, have a role to play. Will they?