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3 UOB-owned fund managers pledge to invest responsibly

THREE United Overseas Bank (UOB) fund management subsidiaries have signed on to United Nations-backed guidelines for responsible investing, the mainboard-listed lender said in a statement on Sunday.

UOB Asset Management, UOB Venture Management and UOB Global Capital committed on Jan 2 to the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), a set of voluntary pledges to take environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues into account when investing.

UOB is billing itself as the first Singapore bank with investment subsidiaries that have signed on to the global principles, which were launched in April 2006.

So far, more than 2,800 investment firms worldwide have committed to the PRI.

Singapore has 29 signatories to the PRI, not counting UOB Global Capital, which is registered in the United States. The most recent addition to the list is Lion Global Investors, a subsidiary of OCBC Bank's Great Eastern Holdings investment arm, which signed on Jan 3.

Other signatories from the Republic include private equity players such as Equis and Axiom Asia Private Capital, as well as Tsao Family Office, which manages and administers the shipping family's assets.

With UOB Asset Management planning to include ESG factors in evaluation and approval for all investment asset classes this year, chief executive Thio Boon Kiat said that the firm will also boost its evaluation process "by tapping fundamental analysis and technology, such as the use of artificial intelligence, and engage our portfolio companies to help improve their ESG practices".

UOB Asset Management could also offer more ESG-focused funds that are in line with the United Nations' sustainable development goals, Mr Thio added. The 17 goals include the eradication of hunger and poverty by 2030, as well as action to curb climate change.