Glencore CEO Gary Nagle took aim at European investors this week for being too focused on environmental, social, and governance, or ESG factors, which he said were taking precedence above financial returns.
Speaking at a mining event in London on Thursday night, Nagle sought to defend Glencore’s proposal to create a spinoff of its coal business in New York rather than in the British capital, a move it ultimately opted against.
During that event, he defended U.S. investors as “more pragmatic” than their European counterparts, noting that his conversations in deciding whether to create the New York spinoff highlighted the vast differences between U.S. and European financial considerations and priorities.
“In Europe, investors seem a little bit more focused on ESG, and it seems to be the ESG desk that makes more decisions — and returns are sometimes put second or third in the list,” Nagle said at the Melbourne Mining Club event in London.
“That’s a concern for us,” he said.
Nagle’s remarks come as some oil and gas majors, including Shell and BP, continued to have higher valuations in the United States, even after both companies have softened their commitments on climate and continue to invest in new production and exploration projects.
“American investors, in my view, seem to take a more pragmatic approach towards [ESG], where they want the yield,” Nagle said, compared to European institutions that he said seem to be run by the “ESG desk.”
Glencore is not actively considering the move to New York, Nagle said, but he did not rule out moving the company’s listing to New York in the future.
“If we’re in a situation where we feel we are not getting the recognition, not getting the valuation, and not getting the pool of capital for us in London, then it is something we would potentially consider. But it’s certainly not something we would consider now,” he said.