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January 11, 2013

European Sustainable Funds Hold Own in 2012
    by Robert Kropp

The twelfth annual study of Green Social and Ethical Funds in Europe by Vigeo Italia notes that consolidation of the industry has continued for a third year. -- It's long been argued that effective regulation is central to the sustainability agenda. The most recent report on Green Social and Ethical Funds in Europe, published by Vigeo Italia, bears this out.

France, where the recently enacted Grenelle II regulations require greenhouse gas (GHG) balance sheets from every company with more than 500 employees, as well as the accounting for environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) factors by fund managers, had the highest rate of growth in assets of all European countries. France is also by far the largest market for sustainable funds, accounting for 44% of European assets, followed by the UK and Switzerland.

Furthermore, France experienced the strongest growth in assets in 2012, followed by the Netherlands and Germany.

Elsewhere, the report indicates that sustainable funds in Europe have maintained a stage of consolidation for a third year; the number of funds remained essentially unchanged, and overall assets reached $126 billion by the end of June, 2012, a 12% growth over a one year period. In 2010, the rate of growth over the previous year was 41%. The 2012 amount represented 1.6% of the overall retail funds market, a slight increase over 2011.

Apparently, the financial crisis and the euro debt crisis have had a significant effect on the investment practices of sustainable investors in Europe. While equities continue to lead as the investment vehicle of choice, only 49% of assets were devoted to them; in 2007, fully two-thirds of sustainable assets were in equities. In 2012, fixed income accounted for 40% of assets, compared to just 20% in 2007,

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