FRANCE - Caisse d'Epargne’s IXIS Asset Management and Dexia Asset Management top the list of best-known players in the five billion-euro French Socially Responsible Investments market, a survey reveals.

IXIS was mentioned by 45% and DEXIA by 41% of the 40 institutional investors polled by Novethic, a subsidiary of Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, consulting firm Amadeis and BNP Paribas Asset Management.

I.DE.A.M, Integral Development Asset Management, followed with a 31%.

The market has grown to five billion euros from three billion euros a year ago, Novethic says.

The study - “Socially Responsible Investment: Current Situation and Outlook for the French Institutional Market” - is based on a sample of employee benefits groups as well as mutual societies accounting for more than 400 billion euros of the country’s pension provisions.

According to a survey, more than half of all French institutional investors have already made socially responsible investments (SRI)

“The major French institutional investors are allocating a growing percentage of their assets based on SRI considerations,” the survey reveals.

Fifty-one percent of the institutional investors surveyed had already invested in accordance with SRI criteria, compared with 46% in 2003 and 40% in 2002.

More than 60% of the institutions surveyed have made investments for more than five million euros and nearly 20% have invested more than 50 million euros.

“While most of those surveyed believe it is too early to make a financial or extra-financial assessment of the performance of their SRI portfolios, 70% of them expect performances to exceed or match those of conventional funds”, the study also says.

It is also indicated that today, 90% of the institutional investors have already ventured into the SRI business and the survey argues that they intend to continue.