City coalition to drive CSR campaign on Burma risks

A coalition of City institutions representing nearly £400bn

in combined assets is to launch a CSR communications campaign to raise

investor awareness of human rights abuses in Burma.



The eight-strong group - which includes the Co-operative Insurance

Society, Morley Fund Management and Jupiter Asset Management - called on

shareholders to look at the risks associated with investing in

Burma.



Financial services PR firm Penrose Financial has been drafted in to help

develop and run the CSR initiative.



Penrose, working on behalf of retained client Morley, is tasked with

raising awareness of the human rights issues in the country, known to

its ruling junta as Myanmar, and driving home messages of the risks to

investors.



The group claims companies operating in unstable political climates such

as Burma can be exposed to falling shareholder confidence, negative

press and publicity campaigns, safety risks and corruption.



Just one week after issuing the statement, entitled 'Business

Involvement in Myanmar - A statement from Institutional Investors,'

companies have been responding to the campaign.



Food and drink giant Nestle this week issued a statement outlining its

positive activities in the country, claiming the firm is active in

health and food safety and in skills training for local residents.



Morley company analyst Fiona Cuthbert, who is part of the firm's

socially responsible investment (SRI) team, said a large part of the

campaign involved raising awareness of the human rights issues and

strict military regime in Burma.



'All our work really is educating people so we want to keep our

communications campaign ongoing and get our messages out there,' said

Cuthbert.



'People don't realise the extent of the situation in Burma and we wanted

to take a serious angle on it with the business link,' she added.



Penrose is targeting both IR heads in companies and a range of media,

including environmental and oil correspondents, newswires and the

pension trade press. The account is led by Penrose account manager

Caroline Deutsche.



Although the group of institutions is not planning to 'name and shame'

companies that operate in the country, many of the companies rate firms

in which they invest from an SRI point of view.



The group recommends firms that invest or have business relationships in

Burma should publish an independent social impact assessment, set up or

inform investors on policy and procedures for managing risks, make a

commitment to promote human rights and collaborate with respected NGOs.



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