EUROPE - Dexia Asset Management says the continental European market for socially responsible investments is reaching maturity - and is catching up with the UK.

"The sustainable management market is not only in full expansion in continental Europe but has also reached a certain maturity," said Dexia AM management board chairman Hugo Lasat.

"This is reflected in real terms in particular by the desire for transparency in companies and by regulatory initiatives implemented in some countries." And he said that skills developed by managers, rating agencies and academics had also contributed to the growth.

He said: "Continental Europe is catching up with the United Kingdom in SRI." Dexia said the growth of the SRI market is "explained by the increasing interest among institutional clients in this type of management".

"Institutional investors are becoming more and more demanding in terms of selection and also on financial aspects: the investment universe, risk constraints and performance objectives," Lasat said.

"Institutional investors wishing to include sustainable criteria in their asset allocation still do not wish to change their performance objectives or their risk constraints," added Wim Vermeir, head of sustainable management at Dexia AM.

Dexia AM manages around 66 billion euros.