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Crispin Murray: Pollution law shows investors need to keep a close eye on government

Government policy is an increasing risk factor for investors, argues Pendal head of equities CRISPIN MURRAY

GOVERNMENT policy is an increasing risk factor for investors, particularly in the resources and energy sectors, says our head of equities, Crispin Murray.

“As an investor, you really need to have conviction — and part of that comes from your ability to understand all the risks within an investment case,” Murray says.

“You are always worried about unpredictable events, and this is where the influence of government becomes a bigger issue, particularly around unpredictable policy.”

Murray, speaking at The Australian Financial Review Live conference, says sovereign risk can be more unpredictable than competitor risk.

“Competitors are largely focused on returns, so you can anticipate what they’re likely to do.

“But governments overlaying policy agendas can create more unpredictable outcomes.”

“Largely speaking, competitors are focused on returns — so you can anticipate what they’re likely to do.

“If you have governments with other policy agendas overlaying, that can create quite unpredictable risks.”

Murray uses the recently introduced federal safeguard mechanism in Australia as an example.

The safeguard mechanism effectively regulates the emissions of Australia’s 215 biggest polluters, including many fossil fuel companies, forcing them to reduce carbon output.

It comes into effect from July.

“They are still negotiating on details, but it means we’re asking mining companies, as an example, to quickly cut their scope one emissions,” Murray says.

“That means cutting diesel emissions over the next seven years – and there’s no proven commercial solution to that.

“That creates an extra cost and is going to deter investment.

“In isolation that is not going to be a huge issue. But when you add a few other things in — new taxes and things like that — it can very quickly start weighing on the market.”

Resource and energy companies are hit hardest.

“Where you have an unpredictable fiscal environment where the rules can change, retrospectively … that ultimately deters capital from wanting to be deployed,” Murray explains.

“Maybe as a society we are saying we don’t want capital deployed in the resources or energy sectors anymore, but that is the sort of example that will ultimately have an impact on society.”

Companies and investors will need to work into financial models the cost of carbon — even though in Australia there is no mandated carbon price — because under the safeguard mechanism many companies will have to purchase carbon offsets.

“I think we will see carbon price go up more than people realise,” says Murray.

“And it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that we will see a carbon price by the end of the decade.”

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About Crispin Murray and Pendal Focus Australian Share Fund

Crispin Murray is Pendal’s Head of Equities. He has more than 27 years of investment experience and leads one of the largest equities teams in Australia. Crispin’s Pendal Focus Australian Share Fund has beaten the benchmark in 12 years of its 16-year history (after fees), across a range of market conditions.

Pendal is a global investment management business focused on delivering superior investment returns for our clients through active management. 

Find out more about Pendal Focus Australian Share Fund  

Contact a Pendal key account manager

This information has been prepared by Pendal Fund Services Limited (PFSL) ABN 13 161 249 332, AFSL No 431426 and is current at May 4, 2023. PFSL is the responsible entity and issuer of units in the Pendal Focus Australian Share Fund (Fund) ARSN: 113 232 812. A product disclosure statement (PDS) is available for the Fund and can be obtained by calling 1300 346 821 or visiting www.pendalgroup.com. The Target Market Determination (TMD) for the Fund is available at www.pendalgroup.com/ddo. You should obtain and consider the PDS and the TMD before deciding whether to acquire, continue to hold or dispose of units in the Fund. An investment in the Fund or any of the funds referred to in this web page is subject to investment risk, including possible delays in repayment of withdrawal proceeds and loss of income and principal invested. This information is for general purposes only, should not be considered as a comprehensive statement on any matter and should not be relied upon as such. It has been prepared without taking into account any recipient’s personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this, recipients should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness having regard to their individual objectives, financial situation and needs. This information is not to be regarded as a securities recommendation. The information may contain material provided by third parties, is given in good faith and has been derived from sources believed to be accurate as at its issue date. While such material is published with necessary permission, and while all reasonable care has been taken to ensure that the information is complete and correct, to the maximum extent permitted by law neither PFSL nor any company in the Pendal group accepts any responsibility or liability for the accuracy or completeness of this information. Performance figures are calculated in accordance with the Financial Services Council (FSC) standards. Performance data (post-fee) assumes reinvestment of distributions and is calculated using exit prices, net of management costs. Performance data (pre-fee) is calculated by adding back management costs to the post-fee performance. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Any projections are predictive only and should not be relied upon when making an investment decision or recommendation. Whilst we have used every effort to ensure that the assumptions on which the projections are based are reasonable, the projections may be based on incorrect assumptions or may not take into account known or unknown risks and uncertainties. The actual results may differ materially from these projections. For more information, please call Customer Relations on 1300 346 821 8am to 6pm (Sydney time) or visit our website www.pendalgroup.com

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