RI Sustainable Funds & Indices, Jan. 4: European SRI retail funds reach €95bn

The round-up of sustainable funds and indices news


European SRI retail funds’ assets reached €95bn at the end of June 2012, or +12% over one year, according to France-based research company Vigeo. It found that the number of funds has remained broadly stable with 884 UCITS fund across Europe. France continues to be “by far the largest market” for SRI retail funds, with the UK and Switzerland in 2nd and 3rd position respectively. The information comes in the 12th edition of Vigeo’s “Green, Social and Ethical Funds in Europe”. Another highlight from the study is that SRI funds now represent an aggregate of 1.6% of the overall European retail funds market – up from 1.4% a year before.
Swiss-based asset management firm Vontobel has launched an equity fund with the criteria to invest in companies that address environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. The Luxembourg-domiciled Vontobel Fund (SICAV) – Sustainable Global Leaders fund will be managed by Roger Merz, the firm’s global equities head who also oversees the Vontobel Sustainable Global Equity fund. It has been launched with $100m in assets.

German church bank Steyler Bank has launched a new sustainable equity fund with Warburg Invest. The new offering only invests in companies which conform to the ethical principles of the Steyler Missionaries. It uses Oekom Research and an independent ethical advisory committee composed of representatives of the Steyler Missionaries, social ethicists and financial experts.

Phitrust, the Paris-based activist investor, says its €149.8m Proxy Active Investors fund (part C), returned +19.68% in 2012 – against a +15.23% return for the CAC 40 main market index. Over a three-year horizon it has returned +3.16% (CAC 40: +1.97%). The fund’s objective is to outperform the index by investing in companies with strong governance and responsiveness to shareholders. Link. Indices

Germany: the Hanover bourse reports that the Global Challenges Index (GCX), a sustainable index it created with ESG research firm Oekom, continued to outperform the German equity benchmark Dax as well as the broader EuroStoxx and MSCI World indices last year. The bourse said the 50-member GCX gained around 26% in 2012 against 25.3% for the German large-cap Dax index, which had its best year since 2003. GCX also bested the EuroStoxx and MSCI World, which returned 16.8% and 13.4%, respectively. Last September, GCX’s creators said that since the index’s inception in August 2007, it had outperformed the Dax and EuroStoxx. The MSCI World held a slight edge during the five-year period but trailed the GCX in the first eight months of 2012. Since its launch, the GCX has attracted €115m in assets, including those from institutions.

A new Islamic index has been launched by the Qatar Exchange in collaboration with and local firm Al Rayan Investment. The QE Al Rayan Islamic index is set to debut on January 7 and is intended to support the creation of Sharia-compliant exchange traded fund by Al Rayan Investment. Announcement

Swiss index provider STOXX says several pension funds and asset managers have begun using its Global ESG Leaders index series – although it declined to specify the volume of investments benchmarked or to name the investors using the indices. The indices use data supplied by ESG research firm Sustainalytics. STOXX first unveiled four of the indices in April 2011 while another four followed in May 2012. The inclusion standards were developed by the German Society of Investment Professionals (DVFA) and the European Federation of Financial Analysts Societies (EFFAS).