Singaporean firm Rajah & Tann has launched a sustainability practice group to advise its regional clients on environmental, social and governance (ESG) compliance matters.
The new practice will be led by banking and finance partner Lee Weilin. Lee will be supported by other local partners including Kala Anandarajah, Soh Lip San, and Sandy Foo across the firm’s M&A, competition, governance, construction and disputes practices.
Rajah & Tann’s new sustainability practice will focus on helping clients navigate legal and regulatory requirements in relation to sustainability including on issues involving bribery and corruption, business conduct and ethics, corporate governance, environment, health and safety, loans, projects and supply chains.
“Sustainability issues can inspire greater confidence and loyalty in investors and customers,” said Lee in a statement. “As such, many companies are now actively integrating ESG principles into their operations. Of late, an area of strong growth for us has been in green and sustainability linked loans as countries and corporates in the region ramp up efforts to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change and other ESG related risks.”
In the first half of 2020, Asia Pacific accounted for only 3% of sustainable fund assets globally but the pandemic has since placed even greater importance on sustainability for businesses in the region.
As the concept of ESG becomes more main mainstream, regional governments have also implemented policies and made efforts to promote sustainability. In 2019, Singapore laid out plans to invest $2 billion in development the country as a green finance hub, its sovereign investment company Temasek Holdings separately set up ABC World Asia Fund to serve as a private equity fund focused on investments that generate positive environmental impact. Hong Kong also introduced ESG-focused listing requirements in the same year.
So far though, regional and domestic southeast Asian firms have been slow to follow the lead of international firms in building and bolstering sustainability practices.
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