SWITZERLAND - Sustainable Asset Managment (SAM) saw its assets under management double over the last year as interest in eco-related investments increased.

The Zurich-based arm of the Robeco group reported a 125% increase in assets under management to CHF8.5bn (€5.3bn) compared with 62% growth in 2006.

Net new inflow for the year was  CHF4.3bn, up from CHF1.1bn, as SAM noted the growth was fuelled mainly by "very gratifying growth" in the company's global mandate businsess with institutional clients.

The €8.4bn ERAFP retirement fund for French civil servants last year awarded Robeco and SAM a brief which will amount to between €100m and €400m over the next 3 years as part of a massive €1.2bn SRI tender. (See earlier IPEstory: French civil servants to put up to €1.2bn in SRI)

Another source for growth was SAM's expansion into the US where SRI is still in its infancy similar to the situation in Asia, the asset manager pointed out.

"Asia, and especially China, are being impacted by the negative effects of climate
change, which is why more and more local investors are seeking investments that offer
solutions in terms of sustainability," the Swiss managers noted.

Together with local banks SAM started to issue SRI funds last year.

They are expecting growth rates in demand both in Asia and the US to reach European levels soon where interest in SRI funds was up 60% last year.

"Although the USA represents the largest capital market in the world, only a very few
sustainability investments are available there," explained SAM.

"The interest on the part of large institutional investors and wealthy private investors for investment solutions that focus on water, the climate and clean energy has increased substantially."

In the fourth quarter SAM officially registered an array of funds for the US market.

For 2008 the pioneer in sustainable investments, in which Robeco bought a 64% stake in December 2006, will focus on new products soon to be launched.

A few weeks ago SAM hired former pension fund head Reto Kuhn for the development of sustainable hedge fund products as well as other innovative investment possibilities around water, climate change and renewable energy. (see earlier IPE coverage: SAM hires former pension fund head)

As for the growth potential of SRI investments SAM founder and CEO Reto Ringger pointed out "the amount of money managed in this segment still lies below 1% of the total investable capital".

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