GERMANY - Asset manager Fortis says it has created a new team in Frankfurt dedicated to socially responsible investing (SRI) amid significant investor demand for SRI in Germany.

To create the team, Fortis said it had moved four SRI specialists from Paris to Frankfurt. The team is headed by chief investment officer Stewart Armer and is to expand to eight to 10 members in 2007.

"We have identified Germany as one of the most SRI-oriented markets in Europe, as it is characterised by rising demand for such investments," said Josef Pfannenstill, head of sales for Germany at Fortis.

In 2007, Pfannenstill said he expected €500m in German inflows to SRI products launched by the new team in Frankfurt. He added that there would be "significant inflows" from investors in other countries as well.

According to the European Business School, there are around 400 SRI funds in Europe with a total volume of €23.6bn. Germany is Europe's biggest SRI market, accounting for more than one-third of the total volume.

Another well-known SRI specialist in Germany is Swiss asset manager Sarasin. At last count, Sarasin had €1.1bn in assets from institutional clients, including pension funds, insurers, foundations and ecumenical organisations.

Like Fortis, Sarasin also sees fast-growing demand for SRI in Germany and has cited the fact that since July 2005, the German government has required deregulated Pensionskassen to disclose to what extent, if at all, they are engaged in SRI.

Pensionskassen account for one-fifth of the €381 in German corporate pension assets. Deregulated Pensionkassen are pension funds that compete for pensions business across all industry sectors.

The SRI disclosure requirement has applied to Pensionsfonds, or equity-oriented German pension funds, since their inception in 2002.