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Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) Pension Fund Investments

Edward Jones made this Freedom of Information request to Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council Automatic anti-spam measures are in place for this older request. Please let us know if a further response is expected or if you are having trouble responding.

We're waiting for Edward Jones to read recent responses and update the status.

Dear Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council,

I am researching the fossil fuel investments made by UK Local Government Pension Schemes (LGPS) for an upcoming report by UK Divest. On publication, the report is likely to receive substantial interest from press and the elected representatives sitting on pension fund committees across the UK. Therefore can you please ensure the investment data you provide is as accurate as possible as our analysis will be fundamentally informed by it.

To complete this research, I require data on each investment that was held by Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) Pension Fund on 31 March 2022, or the nearest possible date:

1. Investment names. Please provide the names of all investments held by the pension fund. For direct investments, please provide the names of individual investments such as specific stocks, bonds, and real estate units. For indirect investments (i.e. those held via a third party), please provide the names of investment vehicles, such as specific mutual funds, exchange traded funds (ETFs) and real estate investment trusts (REITs) and anything else. Note we do not need to know what each indirect investment vehicle invests in as we will determine this in the data analysis.

2. Investment identifiers. For listed investments (i.e. those traded on public exchanges), such as bonds and equities, please provide the International Securities Identifier Number (ISIN). For any investments that do not have an ISIN number, such as some alternative assets, please provide the Legal Entity Identifier (LEI). If an investment does not have an identifier, please provide an explanation.

3. Asset types. The asset type for each investment as reported by the pension fund, such as: real estate, cash, private equity, listed equity, sovereign bonds, corporate bonds etc.

4. Investment managers. The name of the entity which is responsible for the day-to-day management of each investment. For example, this could be the name of the entity which manages a specific investment fund such as Baillie Gifford, Legal & General, UBS etc. Note we do not need to know who is responsible for the overall governance of the LGPS or any pools it might belong to.

5. Investment values. The market value of each investment in pounds sterling (£) on 31 March 2022 or the nearest possible date. And please also give the total value of the pension fund.

We have created a read-only Google Sheet as a template for how we would like the data presented when you answer this request. You can view and download it here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1...

If possible, please use this Google Sheet when answering. Please note there are two tabs - 'summary' and 'data'. Please fill in both tabs. Using the template would help us accurately analyse the data provided.

If you respond promptly and to a satisfactory standard, we will willingly share our analysis with you prior to publication of our report, so you have the chance to comment and benchmark your pension fund against other UK LGPS.

I would like to receive this information in unlocked excel sheets without protected cells (.xls). If you have to password protect the excel sheets, please also provide the password to them. When considering the request for this data in excel format, please refer to Innes v Information Commissioner [2014] EWCA Civ 1086 (i), which allows a requester to express a preference for communication by a particular means, specifically: "an applicant's right to choose to have information provided to him in electronic form extends to a right to choose the software format in which it is embodied." (ii)

Please note:

Many public authorities release their contracts, minutes, and other information of interactions with private vendors in line with the Freedom of Information Act. The exemption for commercial interest under the Act (section 43) is a qualified exemption, which means information can only be withheld if it is in the public's interest. The public have an interest in knowing what the Pension Fund is investing in, the terms of contracts and the minutes of meeting with public authorities, whether or not public money changes hands immediately.

If you are relying on section 41 (the exemption for legal breach of confidence) then I would like to know the following:

* When these confidentiality agreements were agreed
* All correspondence and email in which these confidentiality agreements were discussed
* The precise wording of the confidentiality agreements.

I ask these questions because guidance issued by both the Lord Chancellor (draft guidance on FOI implementation) and the Office of Government Commerce (Model terms and conditions for goods and services) specifically state that public authorities should not enter into these types of agreements; they go directly against the spirit of the laws of disclosure. I would also point to the Information Commissioner's guidance on accepting blanket commercial confidentiality agreements: 'Unless confidentiality clauses are necessary or reasonable, there is a real risk that, in the event of a complaint, the Commissioner would order disclosure in any case.' (iii)

Finally, within the law of confidence there is also a public interest test. Therefore, the information should be disclosed in full. If any parts are redacted, they must be for information that can be proven to be a legal breach of confidence in court, and only then where secrecy can be shown to be in the public interest. These are difficult positions to argue when public money is at stake or where a public authority is offering a private company a monopoly to charge its stakeholders.

I reserve the right to appeal your decision to withhold any information or to charge excessive fees, and understand that under the act, I am entitled to a response within 20 working days. I would be grateful if you could confirm in writing that you have received this request.

Yours faithfully,

Edward Jones

(i) Innes v Information Commissioner [2014] EWCA Civ 1086 http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/...

(ii) Section 11 FOIA and the Form of a Request
https://panopticonblog.com/2014/08/01/se...

(iii) 'Freedom of Information Awareness Guidance 5: Commercial Interests' Office of the Information Commissioner, Page 10 https://www.humanrightsinitiative.org/pr...

Freedomofinformation,

Dear Mr Jones

Thank you for your request for information.

Your request will be processed in accordance with the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (or Environmental Information Regulations 2004, if it
relates to environmental information).

You should ordinarily expect to receive a response to your request no
later than 20 working days following the date of submission to the
Council.

Yours sincerely

Llywodraethu Corfforaethol/Corporate Governance
ar ran Cyfarwyddwr y Gwasanaethau Cyfreithiol/for Director of Legal
Services

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Dear Corporate Governance,

Thanks for your response on 22 March 2023.

We have not received any data from you as of today June 13 2023.

I am hoping this can be dealt with as a clarification rather than internal review as time is now of the essence.

Our original request is here: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/r...

We are working on a nationally significant, positive project to promote renewable energy investment and divestment from the stranded assets of fossil fuels.

Please note that the vast majority of the UK's LGPSs have provided requested details for all investments (e.g. Gwynedd Pension Fund https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/g...). I can provide many more examples of other pension funds providing all of the requested data on request. The downloadable template spreadsheet we provided in the original FOI request also shows exactly what information we want: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1...

Our deadline is June 19 so we would be eternally grateful if you could get the data to us in the required format as soon as humanly possible.

Yours sincerely,

Edward Jones

Freedomofinformation,

Dear Mr Jones

We advise that your request is still with the service area responsible for
providing the information.

We apologise for the delay and will be in touch with you again shortly.

Yours sincerely

Llywodraethu Corfforaethol/Corporate Governance
ar ran Cyfarwyddwr y Gwasanaethau Cyfreithiol/for Director of Legal
Services

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Dear Corporate Governance (Freedom of information),

Ok thank you.

Hope to hear from you as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Edward Jones

Freedomofinformation,

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Jones

We refer to your Freedom of Information Request in respect of RCT Pension
Fund.

Please refer to the attachment. We apologise for the delay in providing
this information.

Where information is considered to be commercially sensitive, Section
43(2) of the FOIA 2000 is applied, namely information prejudicial to
commercial interests. In making this decision we have weighed such factors
as the Council's desire to be open and transparent in all its dealings
against the need to protect the commercial interests of those companies
and bodies it deals with.

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.

If you are dissatisfied with the Council’s response, you can request an
internal review. If you wish to exercise this right, you must do so within
40 working days of the date of this response. Please set out in writing
your grounds and send your appeal to Mrs Julie Llewellyn. She may be
reached at [1][email address] or at RCT CBC, The Pavilions, Clydach Vale,
Tonypandy, CF40 2XX.

Additionally you may, if you wish, find out more about the Freedom of
Information Act & Environmental Information Regulations from the
Information Commissioner at [2]http://www.ico.org.uk/

Yours sincerely

Llywodraethu Corfforaethol/Corporate Governance
ar ran Cyfarwyddwr y Gwasanaethau Cyfreithiol/for Director of Legal
Services

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Dear Corporate Governance, Freedomofinformation,

Please can you send me the March 31 2022 data requested.

Please can you provide the ISIN numbers as requested.

You have sent the Feb 2023 data which we didn't request.

Our full dataset is for 2021-22. It is highly important work looking at divestment from the burning of oil gas and coal and investment in renewables, now, and not in 10 years time which we don't have the luxury of waiting til.

Yours sincerely,

Edward Jones

Dear Corporate Governance, Freedomofinformation,

Please can you reply to my last two unanswered emails.

It is highly important work we are doing with a Government lobbying campaign looking at divestment from the burning of oil gas and coal and investment in renewables, now, and not in 10 years time.

Yours sincerely,

Edward Jones

Freedomofinformation,

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Jones

We apologise for the earlier error and any inconvenience caused.

Please find attached the data for 31st March 2022.

Yours sincerely

Llywodraethu Corfforaethol/Corporate Governance
ar ran Cyfarwyddwr y Gwasanaethau Cyfreithiol/for Director of Legal
Services

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Dear Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council,

Thank you for the data provided, very much appreciated.

I am just searching one clarification. The values of the provided investments do not add up to correct total value of the fund.

As we understand, your investments go as follow:

Direct holdings: £84,070,100.05
ACS World Low Carbon Equity Tracker Fund X2 Acc GBP Hedged: £2,493,732.00
ACS World Low Carbon Equity Tracker Fund - Common Pool: £5,535,025,219.00
Underlying in passive gilts: £709,006,446.22
Wales Pension Partnership Global Growth: £1,540,312,251.38
Wales Pension Partnership Global Opportunities: £406,502,931.01
Wales Pension Partnership (Fidelity) UK Credit: £574,240,871.14

The overall total in this scenario equals £8,851,651,550.81 versus £4,510,000,000.00 you provided in your annual report.

Could you please explain the large difference? And helpfully send necessary adjustments.

Yours faithfully,
Edward Jones

Freedomofinformation,

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Jones

Further to your email of 31st July 2023, attached is another spreadsheet
showing assets under management of each mandate we hold to come back to
the £4.5billion.

The list of direct holdings in the equities held in Baillie Gifford
mandate together with the number of shares in that company (nominal). With
the low carbon and gilts pooled products with BlackRock the spreadsheet
shows the underlying assets in that pool. However the market value is the
total market value of that pooled product and is not specific to RCT has
we just hold units with a market value of those units.

We hope the above explains to Council's position.

Yours sincerely

Llywodraethu Corfforaethol/Corporate Governance
ar ran Cyfarwyddwr y Gwasanaethau Cyfreithiol/for Director of Legal
Services

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We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are Edward Jones please sign in and let everyone know.