China-Focused Socially Responsible Fund Debuts

Jan 19 2010 | 1:55pm ET

China’s emergence over the past few decades as an economic powerhouse has hardly been due to its reputation for strict environmental regulations and commitment to human rights. But one new hedge fund is betting that those things are going to change.

WIM Asset Management has launched a socially-responsible investment hedge fund that will invest in Greater China, Bloomberg News reports. The new long/short vehicle will exclude companies that engage in a wide variety of behavior that has helped make China the economic powerhouse it is today.

“We have a much smaller investment universe because many Chinese companies aren’t socially responsible,” portfolio manager Wu Jun told Bloomberg. Among the companies that WIM plans to screen out are polluters and tobacco companies. The WIM Sustainable SRI Master Fund may also exclude companies with labor or safety problems, as well as those whose boards of directors are involved in lawsuits.

Despite those potentially daunting screens, Wu said China is improving in many of those areas. Just last month, the country imposed new environmental rules on steelmakers.

“Increasingly, companies that don’t adhere to environmental standards or are socially irresponsible will face a backlash from the communities they operate in and from the government,” he said.

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