ASB launches Sustainability Investment Fund

Investors offered opportunity for global investment spread and sustainability through NZ's first Global Sustainability Investment Fund Press Release

Wednesday, April 2nd 2008, 4:18PM
KiwiSavers who want to invest long term with companies committed to sustainable activities and practices can now do so through a fund being made available in New Zealand by ASB Group Investments Limited ("ASB").

The new Global Sustainability Fund will be offered to investors under the FirstChoice KiwiSaver Scheme.

The investment manager for this new fund is Generation Investment Management, established in 2004 by former US Vice President, Al Gore and former global CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, David Blood. Generation Investment Management currently has more than US$1.2 billion of funds under management.

The Global Sustainability Fund provides investors with access to a growth fund comprising 100% global shares, all of which have an absolute focus on sustainability. Existing FirstChoice KiwiSavers will have the option to transfer all or part of their current savings into the new fund.

FirstChoice KiwiSaver comprises 10 funds of which 5 are active funds, which means the investment managers endeavour to exceed market returns. These types of funds are subject to market volatility. FirstChoice funds will continue to be offered to the public directly by ASB Group Investments and through financial advisers and brokers. Index linked funds (sometimes called passive funds) will be available to KiwiSaver investors through ASB Bank branches.

"Our Global Sustainability Fund is currently the only true sustainability fund available to KiwiSavers," said Greg McAllister, Head of Wholesale Distribution, ASB Group Investments.

"Other funds may include some elements of sustainability, but are more accurately described as ethical or socially responsible funds.

"Our research has highlighted that there is growing interest in investing in sustainability funds and that this demand is not being met.

"The aim of the Global Sustainability Fund will be to seek to achieve superior returns while focusing on investing in global companies that are committed in their business decision making and operations to minimising the social, economic, environmental, ethical and governance impacts of their businesses on society.

"Sustainability investing is recognised as a 'third generation' approach to investing in corporations that are responsive to global social challenges. It is more than just ethical and socially responsible investing," said McAllister.

Companies included in the fund portfolio are analysed against criteria such as their response to future regulation change, potential pandemics, climate change, engagement with stakeholders, human resource practices and their corporate governance standards; as well as their long-term potential to perform financially.

"Until now, to invest in a true sustainability fund, New Zealanders have had to invest directly offshore," said McAllister.

"Our research has also identified Generation Investment Management as the international market leader."

The Global Sustainability Fund at any one time tracks the performance of up to 100 global companies, while investing in between 25 and 60 different equities.

"Simply meeting sustainability criteria is not enough," said McAllister. "To be included in the portfolio, companies must also perform financially."

The Global Sustainability Fund is now available through FirstChoice KiwiSaver. Investors wanting to join the new fund should contact ASB Group Investments.

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