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Article | 13 August 2021 | ESG
Oatly – not as green as it seems?
A short seller has accused Swedish oat milk brand Oatly of greenwashing. In other words, exaggerating or misleading investors over their sustainability credentials. Activist hedge fund Spruce Point Capital Management made the allegations inside a scathing 124-page report released last month.
Alongside a critique of the company’s accounting practices, the report reveals that one of Oatly’s US-based facilities has failed to comply with Environmental Protection Agency requirements for the past year. Furthermore, it claims that Oatly has cherry-picked data – using old data in some places and completely omitting other data – to appear more environmentally friendly than it is in reality. Oatly strongly denied the allegations, but shares fell 7% in the wake of the release, and steadily declined over the rest of the month.
As a multi-manager investor, at Architas we wouldn’t take a view on the accounting or business decisions of individual companies. But this development highlights the importance of in-depth research and expertise when reviewing investments on their ESG merits. Responsible investing has grown in popularity in recent years, which has led some companies and investment firms to exaggerate their ESG credentials to capitalise on this new interest. A robust, consistent investment process is essential to cut through the noise.
Each month, we look at the steps Architas and the AXA Group are taking towards a better, more sustainable future for our employees, communities and the wider world
At Architas we hosted a dedicated ESG ‘lunch and learn’ event for all staff in July. The virtual event provided insights into how responsible investing works at Architas, and why sustainability is so important for Architas and the wider AXA Group. This was followed by a virtual event for TRIBE Freedom Foundation, a charity fighting modern slavery that Architas is proud to support.
At Architas we specialise in multi-manager, multi-asset investing. We work with fund managers to ensure they are investing responsibly and focusing on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. In 2018, we began our journey to full ESG integration across all of our offers, and we aim to achieve this by the end of 2021. Since 2018 we have also been signatories of the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment. For more information about our responsible investing process please click here.