S&P Global buys ESG ratings business from RobecoSAM

RobecoSAM to remain “center of expertise” for sustainable investing within Robeco

Ratings agency and analytics provider S&P has acquired the ESG ratings business which includes the widely followed SAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA) offering from RobecoSAM, the Switzerland-based boutique that is an affiliate of Dutch fund firm Robeco, for an undisclosed sum.

It’s the latest development in an ESG data sector that is transforming rapidly and follows the acquisition by S&P Dow Jones S&P Indices of UK-based environmental data firm Trucost for just over £14m (€16.3m at the time) in 2016. 

In a statement, New York-listed S&P Global and RobecoSAM, which is ultimately part of Japanese conglomerate ORIX, said S&P would acquire the business that they said is recognized as one of the most advanced ESG scoring methodologies.

The business comprises two units: one administering the SAM assessment for issuing ratings and a second that provides reports to companies seeking to understand their performance relative to their peers. 

Approximately two dozen employees are in scope of the transaction, RobecoSAM said. 

RobecoSAM, which has US$34.3bn of client assets under management, advice and/or license, said it would remain Robeco’s “center of expertise” for sustainable investing, saying: “Sustainable Investing is our key strength.”

It said that the transaction in no way affects its investment processes, “the more than 40 dedicated sustainability experts and 290 investment professionals firmly committed to ESG” in various departments such as fundamental SI Research at RobecoSAM, the SI Quant Research team at RobecoSAM, the thematic investment team at RobecoSAM, the Active Ownership Team at Robeco and ESG integration specialists.

S&P said the acquisition would bolster its position as the “premier resource” for essential ESG and product solutions. It would let it offer its clients even more transparent, robust and comprehensive ESG solutions.

The move, the statement said, would enable RobecoSAM/Robeco to focus on the “interpretation and application” of ESG data and research for its core asset management activities. Robeco and RobecoSAM will continue to have access to the data and will advise on the CSA methodology.

Douglas Peterson, S&P “Through this acquisition, S&P Global is bringing an additional layer of critical insight to our leading suite of ESG product offerings, which will further enable our customers to create resilient strategies, build a sustainable future, and meet the expectations of an evolving market,” said Douglas Peterson, S&P Global’s President and CEO.

 “Beginning with the launch of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index over 20 years ago, RobecoSAM has been an exceptional partner in our shared commitment to bringing essential ESG intelligence, data and insight to the financial markets.” Peterson called the move an “exciting next step”.

First launched in 1999, in collaboration with S&P Dow Jones Indices – a Division of S&P Global, the sustainability assessment was a pioneering move that now assesses more than 4,700 companies worldwide.

“The ESG data landscape is changing rapidly and data providers are evolving along with it. S&P Karin van Baardwijk, Robeco

Global is best positioned to maintain and build on the leading position of the CSA, which will continue to benefit Robeco, RobecoSAM, and their clients,” says Karin van Baardwijk, the chief operating officer of Robeco who is Vice Chair at RobecoSAM.