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BNP Paribas Asset Management launches BNP Ethéis, a sustainable development fund focusing on companies' social and shareholder policies.

This new fund invests in shares in French and European* companies selected for their socially responsible policies as well as their economic and financial profitability. It is directed at retail banking customers of BNP Paribas and is an eligible investment for PEAs (equity savings plans).

Investing in a trend of the future
A growing number of investors are anxious to incorporate social responsibility criteria into their investment policies, in the belief that a company that can combine social responsibility, environmental awareness and profitability is most likely to achieve durable economic growth in harmony with that of its partners. This trend, which is already well established in the US - where nearly USD 2,100 billion is currently invested on the basis of criteria which include ethical and social responsibility policies - is enjoying increasing success in Europe.

Analysing companies on the basis of social responsibility
Following an in-depth study of the principal social-responsibility rating agencies covering the European investment universe, the professionals at BNP Paribas Asset Management have selected ARESE. Its excellent understanding of the European socio-economic environment, the flexibility of its criterion-based rating system that facilitates dialogue with analysts and managers, and its membership of the SIRI network of European rating agencies, were all factors that contributed to this choice. ARESE supplies data on companies to BNP Paribas Asset Management on the basis of five criteria: human resources, relationships with shareholders, customer-supplier relationships, the environment and civic responsibility.
BNP Paribas Asset Management's investment team makes its own selection of socially-responsible companies, giving a greater weighting to the first two criteria in order to focus more on companies that apply best practices in the fields of social responsibility and shareholder relationships. A recent study by ORSE (Observatoire sur la Responsabilité Sociétale des Entreprises - the study centre for corporate responsibility), of which BNP Paribas is a member, shows that investors are taking an increasing interest in corporate social responsibility and policies toward shareholder.
Furthermore, during shareholder meetings of companies held in the portfolio, the managers of BNP Ethéis systematically exercise their voting rights in conformity with the principles of socially-responsible management adopted by BNP Ethéis.

Combining social responsibility and financial performance
Companies are selected on the basis of their social responsibility policies but analysed using the usual economic and financial performance criteria. The resulting portfolio will therefore provide a risk / return ratio comparable to that of more traditional portfolios.
The fund is managed by a specialised team backed by BNP Paribas Asset Management's expertise in financial analysis, portfolio management and risk control.

SICOVAM code: 98412

* To enable customers to take advantage of the expansion of the scope of PEAs to include the European market, BNP Ethéis will be invested exclusively in European securities from 1 January 2003.