FRANCE - The French Socially Responsible Investment market has entered a “first phase of maturity” after recording 75% growth in 2004, said Caisse de Depots subsidiary Novethic.

Novethic said the SRI market had gone up from 2.8 billion euros last year to this year’s 4.9 billion euros. It attributed the growth to the increase in assets of funds regulated by French law, which approach 3.5 billion euros.

“In spite of a slight recovery of fonds de droit etranger [funds not regulated by French_law], their assets remain in the region of 1.5 billion euros, as of December 2003.”

Bond funds grew at the expense of equities, which are still the top asset class, representing 50% of the assets, 2.4 billion euros.

“For the first time, equities do not make up more than half the SRI assets,” Novethic stated.

Bonds now represent a little less than a quarter of the SRI assets in the second quarter of 2004, with the “spectacular growth” of the SRI Macif fund, which rose from 108 million euros to 402 million euros in three months.

Funds of funds, at 15 million euros, do not even represent one per cent of the SRI market.

Medium-sized funds between 10 and 40 million euros, have a 43% share, more or less flat with last year.

BNP PAM and Dexia AM lead the Novethic list of funds with assets in the region of a billion, Macif Gestion comes third with bonds and cash funds in excess of 500 millions

I.DE.A.M and CDC Ixis AM follow with more than three hundred millions. UBS AM with Axa IM have assets in the region of 200 million euros.

“It seems possible today to speak of a of a first phase of maturity. The majority of big French providers have positioned themselves in the still young SRI market.”