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As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, both the media and general public looked to the most powerful businesses and their leaders, as a source of information and strength in the time of crisis.
The second edition of our international COVID-19 Opinion Tracker shows that the public continues to prioritise health over the economy in most countries.
COVID-19 is having a significant impact on both business and society internationally. Kekst CNC have published the first edition of the COVID-19 Opinion Tracker to support our clients and the industries they serve to navigate these difficult times and to anticipate what the coming weeks and months will hold.
Three months into the novel coronavirus crisis, it has become clear that ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) investing is not about to be placed on the backburner during the pandemic. In the first quarter of 2020, a net US$40.5 billion went into funds scoring high on ESG criteria while traditional mutual and exchange-traded funds saw net outflows. Indeed, 94% of sustainable indices outperformed their parent benchmarks in the first quarter 2020, according to a BlackRock study.
Public activity as measured in hard numbers by ActivistInsight, is down significantly in Q1 2020. However, it is a tenuous metric, especially during times of severe dislocation. The market turmoil caused by COVID-19 creates an abundance of opportunities for activists: valuations have plummeted almost across the board and stark differences between companies´ ability to cope with the crisis are becoming increasingly apparent. Moreover, the pandemic will lead to a reassessment of corporate vulnerabilities, and open new doors for activists. ESG is likely to become one of those new doors, with social (‘S’) aspects gaining importance during the pandemic.
When we do finally emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, the world will employ a magnifying glass to assess how businesses responded to the crisis – and the steps taken to recover and rebuild. Leaders are already recognizing that rebuilding a “new normal” affords businesses an opportunity to recover in a more responsible, sustainable and, ultimately, better way. As BlackRock Chairman and CEO Larry Fink highlighted in his recent Chairman’s Letter to Shareholders: “The world will be different. Investors’ psychology will change. Business will change. Consumption will change. And we will be more deeply reliant on our families and each other to stay safe.”
New York, New York, May 12, 2020 – International opinion survey, conducted by Kekst CNC, shows narrow gap between Americans who want fundamental change to the economy and those who want return to pre-crisis state. Data shows rising call to avert economic damage and a continuing decline of confidence in federal government response
London, 11 May 2020 – The second Kekst CNC COVID-19 international tracking survey has shown that while other countries like Sweden, Germany and the United States have become more enthusiastic about protecting the economy, 73% of Britons (down only 1%) say the government should still prioritise saving lives even if that means a major recession or depression.
Kekst CNC survey shows support for government intervention and responsible corporate behaviour LONDON, 14 April 2020 – The first Kekst CNC COVID-19 international tracking survey has shown that the UK public holds the strongest views - compared to the United States, Germany or Sweden - that the government should limit the spread of coronavirus and save lives, even if that means a major recession or depression and the loss of many jobs. Asked what the government should prioritise, 74% said limiting the spread, and only 13% protecting the economy.
Shareholder activism has surged in Japan over the past few years. In addition to the increasing number of activist campaigns, a record 65 Japanese companies received shareholder proposals during this year’s AGM season. This is reflective of the government’s corporate governance reform, such as the introduction and revision of the stewardship code and corporate governance code serving as a tailwind.
Shareholder activism has made massive inroads into Japan over the last four years. In 2018, the number of activist campaigns in Asia surpassed the number across Europe for the first time, with Japan accounting for the majority of cases in Asia.
The COVID-19 crisis is the focus for almost every company across the world. That is true for media organisations as much as anyone else. At very few times in modern human history has the news agenda been dominated by a single story for so long.