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India Introduces ESG Subcategory for Equity Schemes

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has opted to adopt a separate sub-category for ESG investments under the thematic category of equity schemes. The provision of a new category for ESG schemes will take effect immediately. The board will now allow mutual funds to introduce multiple ESG schemes, each with unique strategies namely exclusion, integration, positive screening, impact investing, sustainable objectives, and transition or transition-related investments. Previously, mutual funds were limited to launching only one ESG scheme under the thematic category for equity schemes. According to SEBI guidelines, at least 80% of the total assets under management in ESG schemes must be invested in equity and equity-related instruments that align with the chosen strategy from the specified sub-strategies. The remaining portion of the investment should also be consistent with the scheme’s chosen strategy. SEBI said that the concept of ESG investments is “emerging” and therefore “consistent, comparable, and decision-useful” scheme disclosures are desirable to “enable investors to make informed investment decisions and to prevent greenwashing”. It also emphasised that asset management companies must ensure that the schemes launched by mutual funds are clearly distinguishable in terms of asset allocation, investment strategy, and other aspects. 

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