First State Investments, Boral and Natura
a) Following the discovery of distressing reports on serious health problems resulting from chemical products, First State engaged with a series of companies, such as Amore Pacific, Natura, and Beiersdorf to gain insight into their practices and encourage similar transparency with consumers. Natura, a Brazilian company, was extremely cooperative in outlining its approach. Specifically, the company was very straight forward in sharing its usage of the chemical, Triclosan. Following this admission, Natura pledged to remove this chemical from its products from 2008 given the potentially adverse effects on the environment and human health.
b) Boral, an Australian building and construction supply company, had seen successive years of poor returns and a focus on growing the company’s size rather than its return on capital. First State reached out to the Chairman of the company to discuss these issues in advance of the 2012 Annual General Meeting. These conversations, which included examining the lacklustre returns in comparison with competitors, led to board action to introduce a secondary metric to the long term incentive plan based around Return on Investment Capital. The introduction of this ROIC metric hopes to improve the significant historical shortcomings.