RiskMetrics dissolves KLD index team ahead of MSCI Barra ESG benchmark launches

US index provider expected to roll out new ESG indices this month.

RiskMetrics, the New York-based risk and ESG data group, has dissolved the index team that it took over last year when it bought KLD, the Boston-based ESG research firm, as it prepares to launch a new series of ESG indices this month under new parent, MSCI Barra. It is understood that two members of the five-strong KLD index team, Ken Frankel, former index data manager at KLD and Katherine Walsh, former index research analyst at KLD, are being made redundant.
Two other members of the team, Karin Chamberlain, former manager of KLD Indexes, and Peter Ellsworth, former managing director of FTSE KLD Indexes, are believed to be seeking alternative positions within MSCI Barra. Tom Kuh, former managing director of KLD Indexes is understood to be staying within RiskMetrics under its new MSCI Barra ownership.The dissolution of the team is expected to bring an end to the index partnership that KLD had with FTSE in London, now that RiskMetrics is part of a large index provider itself.
The KLD index team looked after a series of ESG benchmarks including the oldest SRI index in the US, the Domini 400 Social Index, which started in 1990. MSCI Barra has given strong backing to the ESG research component of RiskMetrics, moving it out of the governance part of RiskMetrics and into a broader index research area of the combined group. MSCI Barra is expected to come to market within the next month with a number of new ESG indices.
A spokesman for RiskMetrics/MSCI Barra declined to comment.