Another ESG research merger as Swiss sustainability houses combine

Terms and management details of Centre Info and INrate merger expected in coming weeks.

Swiss sustainability rating agencies Centre Info and INrate are to build on their year-old strategic partnership by undergoing a full merger. The combined entity will have around 25 staff and the two firms say the merger will enable them to increase company coverage globally, serve different clients and create efficiencies. Speaking to, Philippe Spicher, Centre Info chief executive, said the financial terms of the deal would be discussed in the coming weeks. Details such as who will be chief executive and the name of the merged company are also not yet settled. He said the merger was not a cost reduction exercise and that there would not be any redundancies as a result, saying there was “more and more” demand for the companies’ services. Spicher said the client base of the two companies, which includes names such as Vontobel, Raiffeisen and Pictet & Cie., were “very supportive” of the plan. Centre Info, which was founded in 1990 and says it is the oldest continental European rating agency devoted solely to ESG issues,is based in Fribourg in the largely French-speaking west of Switzerland. INrate is based in mostly German-speaking Zurich. The deal is expected to be finalised legally by the first quarter of 2010.The new entity will cover “a broad investment universe of global stocks both in developed and emerging markets”, a statement said. The shareholders of the merged firm will be drawn from existing backers. The Pier-Luigi Giovannini foundation holds 85% of Centre Info while INrate’s shareholders are the NEST foundation with 51%, and consulting group Infras. The announcement takes place amid a rapid phase of consolidation among ESG advisors. RiskMetrics earlier this year bought Innovest and is on the verge of buying Boston-based, KLD Research & Analytics. Spicher told RI: “As with every company, we are constantly having to adapt to new requirements and to invest in innovation.”
Michael Diaz, INrate chief executive officer, said: “During our strategic partnership started one year ago, it became clear that our expertise and our corporate cultures complement each other very well.”
INrate provides company and country ratings, investment universes as well as sustainability and investment consulting.