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What's in a name? EU watchdog cracks down on ESG investment funds

Saturday, November 19, 2022
What's in a name? EU watchdog cracks down on ESG investment funds

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) - The European Union's securities watchdog on Friday proposed strict curbs on how investment funds are sold in the bloc if they tout environmental, social and governance (ESG) credentials to attract cash.

ESG funds have grown in popularity in recent years and in the second quarter of this year accounted for 27% of share assets under management in funds across the EU, according to figures from the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA).

This has raised concerns among regulators over so-called 'greenwashing', whereby funds make sustainability claims which are exaggerated or unverified.

ESMA on Friday published a consultation paper which proposes two criteria for using 'ESG' and 'sustainability' in a fund's title.

"Funds' names are a powerful marketing tool," ESMA said in a statement.

"Competitive market pressures create incentives for asset managers to include terminology in their funds’ names designed to attract investor assets, leading in certain instances to greenwashing, for example by making false claims about sustainability practices."

If a fund has any ESG-related words in its name, at least 80% of its investments should meet environmental or social objectives as set out in the EU's rules on sustainability related disclosures in the financial sector, ESMA said.

"ESMA believes that the proposed threshold of 80% is high enough to meet investors’ expectations that a large majority of the fund’s actual or intended investments is made in assets consistent with its name thus avoiding fund names to be deceptive or misleading," the watchdog said.

There is an additional threshold if the fund is using 'sustainability' in its title, so that at least half of initial 80% threshold for investments should be in sustainable assets.

There may also be a need for "safeguards" on remaining investments in a fund so that investors are not misled, ESMA said.

The public consultation closes mid-February and ESMA will then publish final guidelines in the second or third quarter of 2023, followed by a six-month phase in.

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29-11-2022 07:11:52 (UTC+7)

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 EUR/USD1.0345Neutral
 GBP/USD1.1965↑ Buy
 USD/JPY138.70Neutral
 AUD/USD0.6651↑ Sell
 USD/CAD1.3488↑ Sell
 EUR/JPY143.48Neutral
 EUR/CHF0.9817↑ Buy
 Gold1,740.30↑ Buy
 Silver20.855↑ Sell
 Copper3.6013↑ Buy
 Crude Oil WTI76.31↑ Sell
 Brent Oil83.24↑ Buy
 Natural Gas7.295↑ Sell
 US Coffee C163.02Buy
 Euro Stoxx 503,935.51↑ Sell
 S&P 5003,963.94↑ Buy
 DAX14,383.36↑ Sell
 FTSE 1007,474.02↑ Sell
 Hang Seng17,297.94↑ Sell
 Small Cap 20001,830.31↑ Buy
 IBEX 358,323.20↑ Sell
 BASF48.910Neutral
 Bayer55.75↑ Buy
 Allianz203.80↑ Buy
 Adidas121.26↑ Sell
 Lufthansa7.528↑ Sell
 Siemens AG131.54↑ Sell
 Deutsche Bank AG10.206↑ Sell
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