From: Ploy Chitsomboon, Bangkok Post
Published June 6, 2005 12:00 AM

MFC Plans First 'Social Responsibility' Fund

MFC Asset Management Plc next month plans to introduce the first "socially responsible" fund to be offered in Thailand.

The aim of the MFC Environmentally and Socially Responsible Investment Fund is to generate sustainable returns while also supporting companies that gave a priority to "social investment", according to president Pichit Akrathit.

"Socially responsible investment is still very much a niche market in Thailand. We hope that the new fund is something that will help lead to growth in the future," he said yesterday.

The open-ended fund will have the flexibility to switching assets between equity and debt instruments as needed. The SET50 index will be used as a benchmark, with management criteria based on standard financial criteria but with firms also screened on their policies to protect the environment and promote social awareness.

"We plan to use a third-party standard based on ISO 14000 compliance and the corporate governance standards set by the Stock Exchange of Thailand in evaluating investments," Dr Pichit said.

A preliminary study of local listed companies showed that around 50 of them had qualified for the ISO 14000 environmental management standard. The companies have a combined market capitalisation of around 1.5 trillion baht, or around 35 percent of the total market capitalisation of the SET.

MFC has spent 21 months studying the concept. The company plans to first start a domestic fund in partnership with institutional investors. It will consider establishing a country fund under the same concept in the future.

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Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

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