Hedge fund Mariner to seek out environmentally conscious bets
BOSTON, Sept 10
BOSTON, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Hedge fund Mariner Investment Group, a $10 billion firm founded by William Michaelcheck, will look for companies that have sound environmental, social and governance policies as it searches for new investments.
The firm said on Tuesday that it signed the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment and is now using environmental, social and governance (ESG) screening tools developed by MSCI to analyze fixed income and long/short investments at one of its portfolios.
"We are early in this in the hedge fund world," Mariner Chief Executive Bracebridge Young said in an interview. He added: "It is an appropriate trend and it is like any other good investment process."
So-called sustainable investing - a strategy that recognizes and rewards companies that pay attention to issues including the environment and labor conditions - has become a hot topic within the hedge fund industry.
Young, a former partner at Goldman Sachs Group Inc, said that since the 2007-2009 financial crisis, the industry's priorities have shifted to include an element of "doing good" as well as to deliver top returns.
"As a society, we are rallying around different things that are important and I hear a real need to overlay some of those concerns without the diminishment of very positive returns," he said.
Since January, Mariner's multi-strategy flagship fund, which will be the first within the firm to use the ESG guidelines, has gained 4.6 percent, according to an investor. The average hedge fund gained nearly 7 percent this year while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 17 percent this year.
Recent research from global asset management firm RCM shows that incorporating ESG factors could boost returns and many pension funds are pushing hard for more sustainable investments. Harvard University, whose $30 billion endowment is the biggest in the United States, hired an executive for sustainable investing in July.
In June, Barclays Plc and MSCI Inc, both big players in the indexing business, introduced environmental, social, and governance benchmarks for fixed-income securities.