São Paulo – 22 September 2008
The Bank is the first from an emerging economy to lead the Steering Committee of the Equator Principles, which brings together financial institutions committed to sustainability in project financing.
From 22 September 2008, Itaú will lead the activities of the Equator Principles Financial Institutions (EPFI) – a public pledge that they are committed to taking social and environmental risks into consideration in project financing. Marcelo Battisti, the Credit and Socio-environmental Risk Manager, Itaú BBA will assume the role of Chair of the Steering Committee of the Equator Principles (EP) and this is the first time an institution from an emerging economy has assumed leadership of this group.
“Being chosen for this important role gives us great pride and highlights the importance the adopting institutions of the Equator Principles give to the emerging markets and to Brazil, in particular. However, there is still plenty of room to outreach to others in these markets and raise awareness of the EP’s to local banks,” Battisti said.
There are currently 61 financial institutions from a number of countries which are adoptees of the Equator Principles, 12 of which are on the Steering Committee. The Equator Principles were launched in 2003 and are a banking industry framework for addressing environmental and social risks in project financing. They require any company which applies for a loan to carry out a social and environmental assessment, and consultation and disclosure (if appropriate) to establish an action plan and incorporate covenants. The companies must also arrange for independent audits to ensure that the project is operating in line with the appropriate standards. The financial institutions have voluntarily committed themselves to incorporating the Principles in projects worth US$ 10 million or more. The Principles were revised in 2006 and were extended to advisory services in structuring projects.
Itaú plays a leading role in the Equator Principles Steering Committee and Working Groups. The Bank has gained great experience in this area as it was the first Brazilian bank to take social and environmental concepts into consideration in its analyses and has been doing so since 2000. In 2007, it analyzed and approved six projects within the scope of Itaú BBA which were related to the Equator Principles. Two of these were categorized as high risk and four as medium risk and involved investments of R$ 4.1 billion.
Itaú´s experience of adopting the Principles and considering social and environmental aspects in its credit policies has been so successful that it is seen as a benchmark in the sector. “In May, we received representatives of the Industrial Bank of China who wanted to learn about Itaú BBA´s experience in assessing the social and environmental risk in an emerging market like Brazil,” added Battisti who is currently in China giving a series of presentations to share this expertise with the participation of the IFC and Chinese banks.
Focus on sustainability
To highlight its concern with social and environmental issues, Itaú launched its Social and Environmental Risk Policy at the end of 2007. This Policy is used in the process of granting credit of more than R$ 5 million to corporate clients of Itaú BBA and Itaú. Proprietary analysis processes will be developed for the Itaú Buen Ayre, Itaú Chile, Itaú Uruguay and Itaú Europa banks by the end of 2009, taking into consideration the specific features of each institution. Itaú is the current leader in the ranking of Latin American banks which adopt the best corporate governance practices drawn up by the Management & Excellence consultancy and Latin Finance magazine. The Bank is also the only Latin American institution to have been part of the Dow Jones Sustainability World Indexes (DJSI) since it was launched in 1999 and the Business Sustainability Index of the São Paulo Stock Exchange (Bovespa). It also won the A+ GRI Checked seal of the Global Reporting Initiative this year for its Annual Sustainability Report.