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Being less socially conscious than Paul Singer is a pretty high (or low, depending on how you see things) bar to clear. The Elliott Management founder has blithely reconciled with the monster in the White House, extracted each and every cent he could from an economically-devastated country, can’t quit his addiction to malicious financial innovations, and sent his goons to harass the children of his enemies. Still, he’s trying, even if those efforts have less to do with morality than with Singer’s ability, as with Trump, to sense which way the wind is blowing.

“Over the last few years since my role creation, and other steps that we’ve taken, I think we are more implicitly involving ESG into our practices,” said Christine O’Brien, head of investment stewardship at Elliott…. The firm reached an agreement with Kansas and Missouri power supplier Evergy Inc. in August on a five-year “sustainability transformation plan” aimed at speeding up the latter’s transition to clean energy, following a public activist campaign that shareholders expected would result in a sale. Elliott also urged Evergy to suspend share buybacks….

That said, Elliott is not and will never be an ESG fund.

“Our mandate has been and will continue to be to make returns for our investors in good times and in bad,” O’Brien said.

Like we said, pretty low bar. However, it’s one that some are amply equipped to slither under, and unsurprisingly, by people even Paul Singer finds detestable and who are engaged in an endeavor that is ultimately rather political in nature. Say, Coinbase’s Brian Armstrong.

It has become common for Silicon Valley companies to engage in a wide variety of social activism, even those unrelated to what the company does…. The reason is that while I think these efforts are well intentioned, they have the potential to destroy a lot of value at most companies, both by being a distraction, and by creating internal division. We’ve seen what internal strife at companies like Google and Facebook can do to productivity, and there are many smaller companies who have had their own challenges here….

It would go against our principles of inclusion and belonging to be more of an activist company on issues outside of our core mission. We have people with many different backgrounds and viewpoints at Coinbase, and even if we all agree that something is a problem, we may not agree on how to actually go solve it. This is where there is a blurry line between moral statements and politics. We could use our work day debating what to do about various unrelated challenges in the world, but that would not be in service of the company or our own interests as employees and shareholders…. Coinbase’s mission is to create an open financial system for the world. This means we want to use cryptocurrency to bring economic freedom to people all over the world.

Anyway, speaking of those making decidedly un-woke decisions….

Billionaire activist investor Nelson Peltz has resigned as a senior advisor to Aurora Cannabis Inc. to pursue other commitments, the company announced Monday.

Peltz first joined Aurora in March 2019 under a senior advisory services agreement where he was tasked with helping the company devise a strategy to find a way to marry its cannabis business with the U.S. consumer market.

Elliott Puts More Stress on ESG [The Deal]
Coinbase is a mission focused company [Coinbase Blog]
Billionaire investor Nelson Peltz resigns as Aurora Cannabis advisor [BNN Bloomberg]



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