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SRI funds review

A REVIEW of socially responsible investments in Australia hopes to uncover the methods used by managers in making questionable investment choices.

The research, being carried out by environmental group Green Capital (Total Environment Centre), is a response to an increasing demand from investors that their superannuation and investments be placed in companies with good social and environmental reputations.

According to Green Capital manager Dave West, many companies with dubious environmental records remain popular prospects for investments by SRI funds. SRI is believed to be one of the fastest moving investment sectors, growing 50 per cent a year, and is now worth over $1.3 billion.

“SRI has the potential to be a powerful ally in our efforts to abate the impacts of corporations on our planet,” Mr West said.

“At one level SRI has the capacity to raise much-needed capital for vital new industries such as renewable energy, alternative waste technologies and bioremediation. Yet there is a growing concern about whether SRI funds really deliver.”

Green Capital singled out Rio Tinto, Orica, BHP Billiton and Patrick Corp as having bad environmental records while still getting the support of a number of SRI fund managers.

Tower, SAM, ING and BNP Paribus have investments in Rio Tinto, while AMP Henderson, Challenger, Equity Trustees, Glebe, Hunter Hall, IOOF, Rothschild Sagitta, and Westpac invest in at least one of the other three companies mentioned.

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