Natixis Asset Management, the €292.5bn French fund manager, has separated its in-house responsible investment unit, Mirova, into an autonomous asset manager, with Natixis AM’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Philippe Zaouati, stepping down from his Natixis role to focus exclusively on the CEO job at the new firm. Mirova was created in November 2012 as an in-house unit to run Natixis AM’s specialist SRI equity funds, its research on environmental, social and governance (ESG) themes and a significant chunk of its voting and engagement. It now becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of Natixis AM, in line with the French manager’s ‘multi-affiliate’ approach of boutique fund managers under a global umbrella organisation. Pascal Voisin, Chief Executive Officer of Natixis Asset Management, becomes Chairman of Mirova’s Board of Directors. Natixis said the split of Mirova into a subsidiary would strengthen the independence of its management team and help to accelerate international development. Zaouati, who joined Natixis in 2007, is also head of the Corporate Governance Commission of the French Asset managers’ association (AFG) and a board member of the International Corporate Governance Network (ICGN). Hesaid: “Mirova has great ambitions. We want to strengthen our position as a committed and innovative player in the vanguard of responsible investment, theme-driven investment management and infrastructure projects on an international scale.” Mirova, which has 43 staff, has €3.4bn in proprietary assets and oversees Natixis AM assets of €23.6bn for voting and engagement. Its fund range includes equities, bonds, infrastructure and impact investing funds for institutional and retail clients, which are sold by Natixis’ global distribution platform. In the last year, Mirova launched a responsible investment partnership with the University of Cambridge’s Programme for Sustainability Leadership where it sponsors the asset management stream. It also developed a methodology for analysing the environmental and social impact of infrastructure projects in partnership with BeCitizen, a strategic consultancy firm for the creation of products, business models and profitable financial vehicles that contribute positively to society and the environment. Natixis is the corporate, investment and financial services arm of Groupe BPCE, the 2nd-largest banking group in France.