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Dexia SRI head leaves for African equities start-up

Belgian fund manager names institutional portfolio head to lead sustainability team.

Brussel’s-based Dexia Asset Management has appointed a new head of sustainable and responsible investment following the departure of Gaëtan Herinckx, former head of the unit. Herinckx, who had been at Dexia for almost ten years, has joined Sustainable Capital, a start-up asset manager based in Cape Town, South Africa, which specialises in sustainable investment in African equities. Herinckx left the company to take up a new challenge in sustainable investment. He has been replaced at Dexia by Isabelle Cabie, formerly global head of institutional portfolio management, indicating the firm’s strong backing of SRI. Cabie joined Dexia as a macro economist in 1992 and since 1998 has been involved in the management of institutional mandates, both in traditional and SRI strategies. Herinckx has left Belgium for South Africa to work as a senior investment analyst at Sustainable Capital, which was launched in 2008 by Greg Barker and Kevin Macdonald, both formerly of Frater Asset Management. The firm has an investment association with Sanlam Investment Management, one of South Africa’s biggest funds houses. Dexia Asset Management’s SRI team is one of the largest in continental Europe with 10 sustainability analysts acrossspecific sectors and sustainability themes. It has recently suffered a performance downturn. In January this year, the €29bn ($40.5bn) French pensions reserve fund (FRR) fired Dexia Asset Management from an SRI mandate likely to have exceeded €100m as a result of the returns trough.
The fund terminated Dexia’s contract in European SRI equities after three and a half years of an expected five-year mandate which started in July, 2006. The assets were shared amongst FRR’s four other European equity SRI managers: Allianz Global Investors, Aviva Investors, Pictet Asset Management and Sarasin Expertise Asset Management.
FRR initially invested about €600m in pure SRI mandates with the five asset managers, which started to run the money between July and December 2006. The fund did not disclosure the nature of the performance issues at Dexia, although the manager’s returns appears to have been hit by the credit crisis. Governments in Belgium, France and Luxembourg had to step in to rescue Dexia, the fund manager’s parent bank, injecting almost €6.4bn into the business to keep it afloat at the height of the credit crisis.