Westpac named world's most sustainable firm

GEORGE LIONDIS
Last updated 14:52 23/01/2014

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Westpac has been ranked the world's most sustainable company in a major global coup for the Australian bank.

The bank was handed the prestigious prize at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where Westpac chief Gail Kelly is attending alongside global business and political leaders, including Australiian prime minister Tony Abbott.

Speaking from Davos, Kelly said Westpac had been recognised for its commitment to social, environmental and economic responsibility.

"I am delighted that Westpac's sustainability performance has been rated so highly on the global stage," Kelly said.

Westpac topped the list ahead of US biotech firm Biogen, Finnish mining technology and capital goods company Outotec Oyj and Norwegian oil giant Statoil.

ANZ Banking Group, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Stockland and Wesfarmers were the only other Australian companies on the list and were ranked at number 19, 25, 32 and 92 respectively.

The list is compiled every year by Corporate Knights, a research company based in Toronto, Canada.

"Westpac has a long history of leadership and innovation in corporate sustainability. It was the first bank to join the Australian government's Greenhouse Challenge Plus and the first financial institution in Australia to create a matching donation program," Corporate Knights said in a statement.

As part of its "2017 sustainability strategy", Westpac has committed up to $6 billion for lending and investment in clean technologies and environmental services.

It will also make up to $2 billion available for lending and investment in social and affordable housing.

"It is wonderful recognition of the work of our people to help create a sustainable future and deliver long-term value for our customers, employees, shareholders and the community," Kelly said.

Corporate Knights chief executive Toby Heaps said the world's 100 most sustainable companies had outperformed the broader market by an average of 3.2 per cent over the past year.

"The results speak for themselves. Topping a well-diversified benchmark is not easy, but the Global 100 has managed to squeak out marginal outperformance across a turbulent period in the history of the capital markets," he said.

"We attribute this excess return to the growing investment relevance of core sustainability themes, including water scarcity, rising energy prices and growing competition for human capital."

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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