FRANCE - French institutional investors are increasingly focusing on socially-responsible investment (SRI) and most institutions now expect it to play a role in their business strategy, suggests a study of investors.

Details of the sixth annual Socially Responsible Investment survey, conducted by investment consultancy Amadeis, SRI research centre Novethic and asset manager BNP Paribas, reveals 61% of the 50 institutional investors questioned now invest in SRI, compared with 48% in 2006.

Moreover, at least 31% of investors, including pension funds such as IBM France and the French civil servants fund ERAFP, invest at least 5% of their assets in SRI - a major leap from the 12% of investors in 2006 - while a further 21% of those questioned invested over 10% of their assets in the concept.

Shareholder activism is still some way down the list of preferred engagement options, as just 16% said they think it is important to promote shareholder activism.

Environment is seen as an important issue, and 73% of those questioned said so compared with 46% last year, the most important sector they look at being renewable energy according to 77% of the firms, followed by human rights.

However, just six institutions are signed up to the European Responsible Investor Forum (Eurosif).

Institutions questioned were a mixture of asset managers, pension and insurance providers, mutual societies, foundations and associations, and between them have assets totalling €700bn.

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