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March 01, 2010

MSCI Will Acquire RiskMetrics
    by Robert Kropp

Implications are uncertain for the ESG investment research industry, whose consolidation has been driven in large part by acquisitions by RiskMetrics.

SocialFunds.com -- In a deal that is certain to have ramifications for the rapidly consolidating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investment research industry, MSCI, a provider of stock market indexes and risk and performance analytics, has agreed to acquire RiskMetrics Group, a provider of risk management and corporate governance products and services.

The $1.55 billion transaction is expected to close in MSCI's third fiscal quarter of 2010.

During 2009, RiskMetrics acquired highly regarded ESG research providers Innovest Strategic Value Advisors and KLD Research & Analytics. Other major consolidations occurring last year in the ESG research space included the merger of Jantzi Research and Sustainalytics, as well as the purchase by Thomson Reuters of ASSET4. Yet another major development was the September 2009 entry into the ESG research field of financial information giant Bloomberg Professional.

Since its 2007 purchase of Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), RiskMetrics has also been a leading provider of proxy voting services.

Rumors surfaced last month that RiskMetrics had put itself up for sale. The major contenders for the acquisition were expected to be MSCI, Bloomberg, and Thomson Reuters.

In a webcast aired this morning, Henry Fernandez, Chairman and CEO of MSCI, said, “One example of revenue synergy comes in the environmental, social, and governance space that RiskMetrics has been expanding on. We’re excited about the opportunity to leverage the research, the analytics, and the data of RiskMetrics in its business to create new businesses that will enable us to offer products for global socially conscious investors.”

Ethan Berman, Chief Executive Officer of RiskMetrics, said, “The need to understand risk is critical, and is only going to expand over the next ten years. Our clients are looking for their providers to bring them broader, more complete solutions. Combining with MSCI allows us to provide tools for portfolio risk management across all asset classes.”

MSCI expects to gain $50 million in cost synergies by eliminating overlapping positions, relocating positions to emerging market centers in Monterrey, Mexico, Budapest, and Mumbai, and savings in other company expenses.

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