BELGIUM – Socially responsible investing company Ethibel posted a loss of 167,193 euros in 2002, compared to a profit of 59,092 euros in 2001.

The company says 2002 was “a very bad financial year for the organisation”, with market declines hitting the income it makes from labelling other vendors’ funds.

“As a result of the great fall in the stock exchange – the label income is dependent on this to a great extent – the existing labelled funds performed much less well than expected,” Ethibel said in its 2002 annual report.

It said it was very difficult to attract new clients in the poor investment climate. It lost KBC as a client after the bank decided to organise its socially responsible funds inhouse.

It was hit also by the crisis of confidence among investors following a series of corporate scandals. But it tried to put a brave face on things. “Hopefully all these events will strengthen the demand for more sustainable, ethical and transparent – in short ‘socially responsible’ – economic activity,” said chief executive Bert van Thienen.

The poor performance has lead it to raise extra capital in 2003 and try to cut costs.