BBVA and Innovest in Spanish SRI venture

SPAIN – Innovest Strategic Value Advisors, whose principal outside investor is Dutch pension fund ABP, has started a partnership with Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Gestión to launch a corporate sustainability SRI fund.

BBVA Sustainable Development IF targets institutional investors concerned about issues as climate change and human rights but who expect financial out-performance, explained Daniel de Fernando, chief executive officer at BBVA Gestión, the asset management arm of BBVA.

The fund, open to both institutional and retail investors, has 78 million euros under management, is mainly invested in European equities, at 50%.

A combined 40% share of the portfolio has been allocated to the Spanish and US markets while 10% has been invested in Japanese equities.

Carlos Bendito, managing director of Innovest in Spain, told IPE that pension funds, urged by the trade unions, were beginning to show interest in such SRI investments.

Compared to European investors, Spanish investors were “lagging behind” but things are beginning to move forwards, Bendito said.

“The Spanish SRI market has tremendous growth potential: institutional and retail clients are demanding performance linked to sustainability concerns,” he said.

But a spokeswoman for a member of the Spanish Confederation of Mutual Provident Societies, Cneps, cast doubt on the enthusiasm of Spanish pension funds and mutual provident societies.

“We would like to invest in completely ethical companies, but we think there is only a few of them and we have to diversify," she explained.

“My point of view is that pension funds and mutual provident societies try to follow certain ethical principles, but profitability and risks are still criteria because after all they must pay out pensions.”

BBVA Gestión has more than 45 billion euros in assets under management.

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