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LPs see value creation as leading driver of ESG, say Manulife

Almost four out of five (75 per cent) of LPs expect sustainability to drive investment decisions over next five years, while 66 per cent of LPs see value creation as a leading driver of ESG, according to new research from Manulife on how private equity relates to sustainable investing.

The paper, called ‘Sustainable private equity and the new drivers of value creation’, also revealed that private equity firms are showing significant commitment to the UN’s Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) – including six of the world’s top ten PE firms having signed up to its six aspirational principles.

Whether coming from customers, employees, suppliers, or communities, the call for sustainable practices has increased since the start of the global pandemic. Consumers across the Americas, Asia and Europe say their spending has shifted toward companies conducting operations sustainably, as cited in Globescan’s ‘2020 Healthy & Sustainable Living Survey’.

While brands are moving toward aligning their commercial priorities with environmentally and socially conscious ones, the pandemic has helped highlight the importance of sustainable investing imperatives for private equity sponsors alike.

More than eight out of ten private equity investors agree or strongly agree that “the Covid-19 crisis will raise meaningfully the profile of ESG,” as shown in ‘After the storm: Private equity after Covid-19’, a survey of 30 senior executives at private equity firms conducted by Mergermarket.

The ongoing social and economic crisis birthed by the global Covid-19 outbreak has indeed turned out to be a deeply transformational black swan, and the experience of the pandemic opened investors’ minds to a wider set of factors that could influence corporate performance and portfolio returns in the future.

The effect is that PE sponsors often favour prospective portfolio companies focused on changes in societal norms, regulatory regimes, consumer preferences, and investors’ expectations, Manulife’s research paper stated.

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