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Bendigo Bank wins inaugural CEPA trust-ethical investor sustainable company of the year Award 2001

28 November 2001 |Media centre

Ethical Investor magazine has announced the winners of the inaugural CEPA Trust-Ethical Investor Corporate Sustainability Awards 2001.

The Awards are the only triple-bottom line awards (ie. taking in environmental, social and financial performance) for Australian business, and were given following the most rigorous assessment yet conducted in an exercise of this kind:

A shortlist of companies was provided by a Nominating Committee formed of five leading ethical investment research and consulting firms:
? Monash University's Centre for Environment Management (advising on Westpac's screened investment products)
? Sustainable Investment Research Institute (SIRIS) (engaged to a number of ethical fund managers including Challenger, ING, IOOF and Rothschild)
? SAM Sustainability Asset Management Australia representatives (the group behind the Dow Jones Sustainability Index)
? Centre for Australian Ethical Research (engaged to research the Australian company component of the FTSE4GOOD index)
? Corporate Monitor (compiler of the company ratings for Ethical Investor magazine)

• Each firm nominated three companies for the Sustainable Company Award - one from each of the manufacturing, service, and raw material sectors - and one company for the Sustainable Small Company Award. The resulting shortlist included the following companies:
? In the Sustainable Company of the Year category, open to public listed companies in the ASX200, there were twelve nominations: AGL (twice), Bendigo Bank, Coca-Cola Amatil, Goodman Fielder, Lend Lease, Normandy Mining (twice), Origin Energy, Pacific Hydro, Simsmetal, Southcorp, United Energy and Westpac Banking Corporation (twice).
? In the Sustainable Small Company of the Year category, open to public listed companies outside the ASX200, there were four nominations: Blackmores, Earth Sanctuaries, Nufarm and Orbital Engines. (Monash declined to nominate in this category because it presently restricts research coverage to the ASX200 companies).

The winner was decided by consensus of a distinguished judging panel including: ? Rev Tim Costello (Collins Street Baptist Church)
? Christine Milne (Australian Conservation Foundation)
? Narelle Kennedy (Australian Business Foundation)
? Charles Lane (Myer Foundation)
? Chris Sidoti (University of Western Sydney)

The winner of the CEPA Trust-Ethical Investor Sustainable Company of the Year Award 2001 was Bendigo Bank, chosen unanimously by the panel in recognition particularly of the Bank's Community Banking strategy and other initiatives that have attacked the problem of lack of financial services especially in rural and regional Australia.

Rob Hunt, Managing Director of Bendigo Bank, said he believed the award recognised the long-term nature of Bendigo Bank's strategy.

"Helping to build sustainable communities and business is essential for our business to reach its potential - and, frankly, it's the right thing to do. If we are not building sustainability into our customer base then we are jeopardising the long-term future of our own business.

"We have always said that successful customers and successful communities create a successful bank - in that order. Investing in communities is a great investment for our business.

"That's why you have seen Bendigo move beyond traditional banking to invest in areas such as Community Banking, Community Telco, regional development and Lead On. We are willing to spend the time to involve, encourage and educate communities - to help them to unite together to run publicly-owned companies which channel co-operative spirit into sustainable commercial ventures.

"In most cases, those investments do not provide us with a return in the short-term, but in every case they are fostering the development of communities in which Bendigo has a good chance of being the preferred banker. If we are, and those communities prosper, then our business will automatically benefit.

"This is not an easy strategy. We have made mistakes along the way and we will continue to improve our contribution to a sustainable future. Our shareholders have patiently supported us through the early stages when returns have not been as good as those provided by the major banking sector. But in the long term, we believe, our shareholders will be rewarded with earnings growth which is sustainable."

The winner of the CEPA Trust-Ethical Investor Sustainable Small Company of the Year Award 2001 was Blackmores Ltd, chosen unanimously by the panel for its long-standing commitment to natural health therapies and corporate responsibility.

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