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Green and good

Wednesday, March 14th 2001, 6:57AM

Tower Managed Funds has selected a specialist Norwegian firm to manage its suite of socially responsible funds.

Storebrand Investments is a major Scandinavian asset manager and life company that has about $43 billion in assets under management.

According to senior vice president Carlos Joly it established a socially responsible investment (SRI) fund more than four years ago to get some balance on its balance sheet.

As a life insurer the company recognised things like diseases from smoking and increased claims from global warming were creating liabilities for the company. Using a bit of lateral thinking it decided there must be some sort of asset to balance that out.

Storebrand's answer to this question was a SRI fund.

Tower is offering a range of New Zealand based funds (superannuation and group investment funds) which invest into Storebrand's Principle Global Fund.

The funds can be defined by its investment style, that is it takes a "best of sector" approach to selecting companies (to learn about SRI styles click here).

Under best of sector the fund can invest in any industry, including the likes of alcohol and gambling. The exception in Storebrand's case is tobacco and land mines.

Joly says best of sector makes sense as the modern world requires industries like chemical manufacturing and steel production.

To exclude them from an investment portfolio doesn't make sense. But to only invest in the best companies, based on financial, environmental and social performance, is logical.

"The modern world is inconceivable without these industries," he says.

Storebrand's investment approach is to invest in only companies whose environmental and social performances are in the top 30% of their respective sectors.

Joly says Storebrand screens out tobacco companies, "because we are a life insurance company" and businesses involved in land mines because they are illegal.

Its approach to other questionable industries is to make sure they act responsibly.

Joly says Storebrand are "not moral judges."

What it is looking for are companies that have a positive environmental and social performance.

As part of its research process it quantifies the positive benefit that the companies in its portfolio have in savings in environmental pollution, based on criteria such as ozone depletion saving, material use, energy use and global warming saving.

 

To download an investment statement for the funds click on any of the following links:

- FreedomPlan Global Responsibility Fund (super fund)
- Global Responsibility Fund GIF

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