Sustainable Business

APG launches first index funds to tap Dutch sustainability drive

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The Amstel river is pictured in this aerial shot of Amsterdam, Netherlands, June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Cris Toala Olivares

  • Launches five indexes with Qontigo, BlackRock
  • Options include excluding corporate ESG laggards
  • Follows growing demand from pension clients

LONDON, Sept 8 (Reuters) - APG Asset Management, the largest pension fund provider in the Netherlands, said on Wednesday it would begin offering index products and said its fund clients had pledged an initial 1 billion euros ($1.19 billion) to a low-carbon strategy.

APG's asset management unit oversees around 613 billion euros on behalf of pension schemes and companies, serving 4.7 million members in sectors from cleaning to construction.

In partnership with index provider Qontigo, part of Deutsche Boerse, and with BlackRock, the world's biggest asset manager, APG said it would initially launch five indexes within the iSTOXX APG World Responsible Investment Indices family.

Each is based off the iSTOXX World-A Index, a global developed markets stock index, and then tweaked using environmental, social and governance (ESG)-related filters, which for example involves excluding certain companies.

Other options include picking corporate ESG leaders or companies with a lower carbon footprint or better performance on broader sustainability issues. Clients will have the ability to combine the different strategies into one index.

APG said the decision to launch the new indexes followed increased demand from clients, with many looking to funnel more money into companies supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

BlackRock would have responsibility for trading and portfolio construction, while APG would retain the ability to vote its clients' shares at the annual general meetings of the companies held in the index.

"Our aim is to contribute to a global standard for investing in SDGs,” said Ronald van Dijk, Managing Director at APG Asset Management.

($1 = 0.8428 euros)

Reporting by Simon Jessop; Editing by Edmund Blair

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