Swiss sustainability investment vehicle Sustainable Performance Group AG is planning to liquidate itself and transfer its assets from existing asset adviser SAM Group into a fund from new sustainable private bank Globalance.
SPG’s shares will be transformed into units of Sokrates, a Luxembourg-domiciled SICAV from Globalance – the venture headed by SAM’s founder Reto Ringger. Ringger launched Globalance last year after selling SAM (Sustainable Asset Management) to Dutch-based Robeco in 2008.
The matter is set to be voted on at Zurich-listed SPG’s annual shareholders’ meeting next month.
Various Swiss pension funds – Sulzer Vorsorgeeinrichtung, Pensionskasse Thurgau, Pensionskasse des Kantons Glarus, Zuger Pensionskasse and the Caisse de prévoyance du personnel de l’Etat du Valais – all have stakes of around 4% in SPG. There are around 1,500 shareholders in total, of which around two-thirds are institutions.
SPG chose Globalance after a beauty parade consisting of SAM and three other banks. SAM managed a listed equities portfolio for SPG.The unusual move follows what the SPG board termed “unsatisfactory and disappointing” performance since the financial crisis of 2008. It disclosed a balance sheet loss of CHF187m (€150.6m) at the end of last year.
SPG will reposition itself an “innovative, globally oriented and sustainable investment instrument”. SPG has focused on holdings in the solar and renewable energy, water, healthy living and resource efficiency sectors.
SPG’s founding shareholders were SAM itself, reinsurance giant Swiss Re and the Volkart Gruppe – but SAM says it has not had a financial stake in SPG “for a very long time”.
SPG is chaired by Ernst Brugger, the head of Swiss sustainability consultancy Brugger & Partners. It’s a joint stock company under Swiss law with tax-privileged status as a holding company. Most of its investments take place through offshore subsidiaries.
SAM charged SPG a management fee of CHF1.7m and a service fee of just under CHF370,000 in 2010.
A SAM spokesman said it would continue to maintain its strong market position, and that it wishes Globalance “a good start and much success”.
The agenda for SPG’s June 6 AGM is available here