SWEDEN - Swedish ethical consulting firm Ethix says it is about to sign a deal that will see AP7 and a number of other institutions take an approximately 50% stake in the firm.

Ethix recently spun off from SRI consulting firm CaringCompany–Etikanalytikerna, which recently changed its named to GES Investment Services. Ethix was set up by Etikanalytikerna founders, including Tord Carnlöf and Ulrika Hasselgren.

Carnlöf, now a director at Ethix, explains that the firm was started this summer with the express purpose of being part-owned by Swedish government pension fund Sjunde AP-fonden, or AP7, and other institutional co-investors.

“AP7 and some other institutional clients formerly wanted to have some kind of control over analysis when they were clients of CaringCompany–Etikanalytikerna and they asked if they could buy a part of the company. This was turned down at the time. Then I was asked by AP7 if it was possible to start a new company where they could buy part of that firm.”

Carnlöf says AP7 is currently in a quasi client role, but notes that part of the founding agreement of Ethix was this new stake in the business.

“We are now in discussion with a number of other institutions because AP7 said they would like to have one or two co-investors and that is what we are now in the process of discussing. Hopefully it will be sold before Xmas but otherwise it will be in January. We are speaking with a couple of banks – one European and one Nordic and one pension fund.”

He says Ethix has also started with what he claims is a slightly advanced business model.

“We are now developing and finalizing these methodologies and will make a report to AP7 in the middle of December. GES probably have developed their model a bit, but we have enlarged our number of resources and the criteria is a bit different to an important degree.

"Our screening methodology is based on the updated requirements of the UN Global Compact. We are in deep dialogue with the UN and are a mirror of UN policy. It’s more work and a deeper knowledge is required.”

Carnlöf explains that around 50% of the firm will remain with the partners and founders with around 50% going to the new institutional partners: “This has not been finalized exactly yet. It’s more a question of having the right owners that can bring some knowledge to the company rather than what the final stakes will be.”

Ethix includes four ex CaringCompany employees, three of whom were founder employees of Etikanalytikerna and is five strong in total with two freelance staff on the product side.

Says Carnlöf: “I would say that we will increase our personnel by one or two in the next year or so, although we’ve invested heavily in software, which will save on resources.

“We are currently trying to find clients firstly in the Nordic area but we are having discussions with potential clients in the middle of Europe and also in the US.”