Spanish insurance giant MAPFRE is integrating a socially responsible investing (SRI) approach into the strategies of all its asset managers, following a deal with French SRI house La Financière Responsable (LFR) last week.

MAPFRE Asset Management, which runs €40bn on behalf of the insurer and third-party clients, upped its stake in LFR from 25% to 51%. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The firm first bought into LFR in 2017, but the latest transaction makes it a majority owner.

“We’re not buying LFR for organic growth,” Alberto Matellan, MAPFRE’s chief economist for investments, told IPE. “It’s €600m and MAPFRE is €40bn, so it means nothing in terms of growing our assets under management. The idea is to grow distribution capacity in France and to increase our SRI capabilities.”

LFR uses an in-house ESG database to assess companies and steer shareholder engagement. Its focus is on listed European equities.

As well as MAPFRE AM, MAPFRE runs asset management companies in Brazil and Malta, and has investment teams across the world.

“Those different asset managers have different methodologies, and now we’ll integrate LFR’s methodologies and data into all of them,” explained Matellan, adding: “In the not too distant future, we would like to have all of our investment processes, all over the world, to have some level of SRI.”

He described ESG as “the extra-financial data we use” and SRI “as the way to apply that data to create an investment philosophy”.

MAPFRE is working with the University of Siena to adapt LFR’s methodology so that it is more suitable for some of the firm’s other investment units, including widening the geographical coverage of the data beyond Europe and ensuring the approach is applicable to different asset classes.

Matellan said he was “not sure” whether MAPFRE AM would increase its interest in LFR further over coming years, adding: “Once we have the majority, there’s no real need to increase the stake. Our next steps are to develop a strategic plan, focused on integrating the methodology, and to develop distribution capacity in France. That’s all for the moment.”

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