THE Church of England has appointed an external company, MSCI
ESG Research, to screen the ethics of potential and current
Based at the World Trade Centre in New York, MSCI will provide
"global ethical screening"; environment, social, and governance
(ESG) ratings; and "other services" to the C of E's national
investing bodies. MSCI will take over the position currently filled
by the London-based social enterprise EIRIS in March.
EIRIS has been quick to rebut media reports that the C of E's
decision to switch to MSCI was a result of the embarrassment caused
when it was revealed that the Church in-vested in the payday lender
Wonga, just hours after the Archbishop of Canterbury announced that
he wanted to compete with it and drive it out of business.
"We were responsible for screening quoted equities, and Wonga
was held indirectly by the Church of England through a different
investment vehicle that was not quoted, and outside our mandate,"
the head of responsible investment development at EIRIS, Stephen
Hine, said. "That indirect holding was very small, being one of
many investments in a larger fund in which the Church invested
MSCI said that its work for the C of E will include screening
quoted companies against the Church's exclusion criteria, such as
tobacco, adult entertainment, gambling, defence, and weapons; as
well as identifying companies involved in controversies or that
have breached UN Global Compact standards.
In a statement, MSCI said that it was "proud to work with the
Church of England".
A spokesperson for the Church Commissioners said that MSCI's
appointment followed a competitive tendering process. "The national
investing bodies routinely review third-party screening-providers
to make sure that we are getting the most appropriate screening
service to manage the large number of investments we are monitoring