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RobecoSAM AG
Industry Financial services
Founded 1995
Headquarters Zurich, Switzerland
Products Asset Management, Indices, Private Equity
Number of employees
Parent Robeco

RobecoSAM is an international investment company with a specific focus on sustainability investments.[1] The company is based in Zurich, Switzerland and considers economic, environmental and social criteria in its investment strategies. In addition to asset management, the company has an indexes and private equity portion of the business.[2] RobecoSAM has a series of products based on themes such as water, energy, climate, agriculture, and healthy living.[3] In 2006 RobecoSAM introduced a division called sustainability services that provides sustainability benchmarking reports to companies.[4] In 2001, RobecoSAM became the first carbon neutral company in Switzerland.[5]


The company was founded by Reto Ringger in 1995 as the world's first investment company focused solely on sustainability themes.[6] The headquarters are in Zurich, Switzerland and RobecoSAM has approximately 100 employees.[7] Its parent company is the Dutch-based Robeco, which is a subsidiary of Rabobank.


1995 Reto Ringger founds SAM

1999 SAM and Dow Jones launch the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes

2001 First global sustainable water fund launched (SAM Sustainable Water Fund)

2001 SAM becomes first Carbon Neutral company in Switzerland

2003 SAM Smart Energy Fund launched[8]

2006 Acquired by Robeco

2009 Integration of SAM Clean Tech Private Equity at SAM's headquarters

2010 SAM named SRI/Sustainable Investment Manager of the Year[9] by Financial News

2010 Robeco Switzerland merges with SAM[10]

2011 SAM Smart Energy Fund named Best Clean Energy Fund by Investment Week[11]

2011 SAM manages SAM Sustainable Agribusiness Equities Fund and SAM Sustainable European Equities Fund[12]

2012 SAM named Sustainable Investor of the Year by the Financial Times and the International Finance Corporation[13]

2013 SAM becomes RobecoSAM


The company’s assets under management and advice amount to about USD 11.5 billion (as of June 30, 2012).[14]

The main areas of business are: asset management, indexes, private equity and sustainability services (company benchmarking reports).[15]

In 1999, RobecoSAMand Dow Jones Indexes came together to produce the world’s first family of sustainability indexes called the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes (DJSI).[16] In 2012, S&P Indices and Dow Jones Indexes merged to form S&P Dow Jones Indices.[17] SAM now works with S&P Dow Jones Indices to produce the DJSI.

The DJSI are constructed according to the best-in-class approach and track the performance of global leaders in sustainability. Companies are chosen for the index based on an assessment of their economic, environmental and social practices.[18]

The Dow Jones Sustainability Index Family includes:[14]

  • Dow Jones Sustainability World Index
  • Dow Jones Sustainability Europe Index
  • Dow Jones Sustainability North America Index
  • Dow Jones Sustainability Asia Pacific Index
  • Dow Jones Sustainability Korea Index

Asset Management[edit]

The asset management business is based purely on investing in sustainable companies. Although SAM refers to it as Sustainability Investing, this is often referred to in the mainstream as Socially Responsible Investing (SRI). Sustainable investing is based on the assumption that financial markets represent a powerful mechanism to promote sustainable business practices. Proponents of sustainable investing say that integrating sustainability considerations into investment decisions can lead to superior risk-adjusted returns over the long term.[19]

SAM has theme strategies based on major sustainability trends such as water, energy, materials, agribusiness, and climate. It also has core regional products such as a sustainable global active fund and a sustainable European equities fund.[20] The SAM Sustainable Water Fund received a lot of recognition as it was one of the first of its kind to be launched in 2001.[21] In 2011 it celebrated its 10th Anniversary.[22]

Clean Tech Private Equity[edit]

SAM houses the clean tech private equity team of its parent company Robeco, which is a member of ORIX.[23] The concept of clean tech investing is based on a world that is characterized by rapid population growth, finite natural resources, high prices and material shortages; all of which call for more efficient production processes. Investments include products, services, and processes across industry verticals that are designed to improve the productive and responsible use of natural resources, greatly reduce or eliminate environmental damage and provide superior performance at lower costs.[24]

SAM Clean Tech Private Equity invests in sustainable private equity through co-investments in unlisted companies or through private equity fund of funds. Since 2004, they have been integrating the ESG framework into investment process. The United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment indicated that SAM Clean Tech Private Equity is a leader in integrating ESG into the investment process as well as into its ownership policies and practices.[25][26] In 2010, Investment & Pensions Europe (IPE) named SAM Private Equity as the most Responsible European Private Equity Investor.[27]

The table below demonstrates some examples of clean tech sectors and technologies:

Sectors Clean Technology Examples
Energy generation Wind, Solar, Hydro, Marine, Biofuels, Geothermal, clean coal technologies, coal bed methane
Energy storage fuel cells, advanced batteries, hybrid systems
Energy infrastructure Management, smart grids, transmission
Energy efficiency Lighting, Buildings, Glass, ESCOs, Combined Heat & Power
Transportation Structures, Fuels, hydrogen highways, biofuel distribution, Electric Vehicles, vehicle sharing
Water & Wastewater water treatment, water conservation, wastewater treatment, desalination
Air & Environment cleanup/safety, emissions control, monitoring/compliance, carbon capture, SOX/NOX removal
Materials Nano, Bio, Chemical
Manufacturing/Industrial Advanced Packaging, Monitoring & Control, smart production
Agriculture natural pesticides, land management, aquaculture
Recycling & Waste Recycling, waste treatment

Sustainability Services[edit]

In 2006, SAM founded a sustainability services division. Sustainability services provides company benchmarking reports[28] that provide companies with details about their individual sustainability performance as well as a peer group comparison.[29] Companies can see their strengths and weaknesses mapped against sustainability criterion and compared to best practice examples.[30]

SAM Research[edit]

SAM’s asset management, index and sustainability services are all rooted in its proprietary in-house research division. The financial analysts generate stock recommendations based on a combination of financial sustainability criteria.

The Research team develops the methodology for the annual corporate sustainability assessment that is used to determine the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.[31] SAM research has been analyzing companies along sustainability metrics since 1995 and has developed one of the largest global corporate sustainability databases. The research department often collaborates with academia to share the valuable data from this proprietary database. Ongoing collaborations include projects with ETH and IESE Business School.

Corporate sustainability assessment[edit]

The corporate sustainability assessment is an industry-specific questionnaire that is sent out to the 2,500 largest corporations. Accordingly, SAM annually assesses around 2,000 of the world's largest companies in 60 industry groups and determines their respective sustainability rating.[32] The assessment examines companies based on environmental social and corporate governance factors (ESG factors), which serve as the primary basis for determining a company's level of sustainability and subsequent global impact.[33] The questionnaire has a focus on long-term sustainability topics that are relevant to each industry including human capital, brands and innovation. Some of the sectors they look at include: airlines, communication technology, beverages, auto parts & tires, waste & disposal services, and electricity.[34] After the assessment, each participating company receives a peer benchmarking analysis.[35]

The family of Dow Jones Sustainability Index are based on the results of the corporate sustainability assessment.[31]

Much of the data derived from the corporate sustainability assessment is used in SAM's financial analysis. The data is integrated into the valuation models. Full integration of sustainability into valuation analysis is a differing approach to using data as a sustainability overlay. Advocates of the integration approach state that it is a more accurate reflection of the companies value as it takes into account the various ways in which sustainability factors affect different business models and cost structures.[36][37]

Also from the results of the corporate sustainability assessment, SAM produces a "Sustainability Yearbook"[34] in which they announce the companies that have been ranked as sustainability "sector leaders" and/or "sector movers". They also give a small number of companies a classification of gold, silver or bronze to recognize their added commitment to sustainability issues.[38] Sector leaders in the past have included: Adidas, BMW, Nokia, Panasonic, PepsiCo, Pirelli, and Rolls-Royce Group plc. Sector movers in the past have included: Air France, Fiat, Hormel, IBM, Mitsubishi, and Starbucks.


  • Best Climate Change Fund, 2010: The SAM Sustainable Climate Fund was awarded the "Best Climate Change Fund" by Investment Week[39]
  • SRI/Sustainable Investment Manager of the Year Award, 2010: awarded by Financial News in October 2010.[40]
  • TBLI Best Asset Manager Investing in ESG, 2008, 2009: awarded by IPE TBLI Group ESG Leaders Awards[41]


SAM is a member of the following organizations:[42]

  • PRI, Principles for Responsible Investment[43]
  • Eurosif, European Social Investment Forum[44]
  • Ceres, Investors and Environmentalists for Sustainable Prosperity
  • ASrIA, The Association for Sustainable & Responsible Investment in Asia[45]

Sustainability leadership awards[edit]

In 2001, SAM and Sustainable Performance Group (SPG)[46] founded the sustainability leadership award. The award ran from 2001–2010 and was presented annually to a chosen sustainability leader and pioneer.[47]

It was founded under the belief that individuals who place a great importance and effort to promote sustainability in the workplace should be publicly recognized.[48]

Previous award winners include:

  • 2001 Ray Anderson (Founder and CEO Interface Inc.)
  • 2002 Dr. Michael Otto (Chairman of the Board of Directors, Otto) and José Maria Figueres Olsen (former President of Costa Rica, founder of Costa Rica Foundation for Sustainable Development)
  • 2003 Tessa Tennant (Executive Chair, AsrIA)
  • 2004 Antony Burgmans (Chairman Unilever) and Robin Cornelius (Founder and CEO of Switcher SA)
  • 2005 Lars Rebien Sørensen (Chairman and CEO of Novo Nordisk) and Bob Welsh (CEO, VicSuper)
  • 2006 Travis Engen (Alcan) and Jeremy Leggett (Solarcentury)
  • 2007 Yogesh Chander Deveshwar (Chairman of ITC Ltd.) and David Johnston (Founder and President of What's Working Inc.)
  • 2008 Yvon Chouinard (Patagonia Inc.) and L. Hunter Lovins (Natural Capitalism Inc. / Natural Capitalism Solutions)
  • 2009 Peter Bakker (CEO of TNT) and Dr. Ashok Gadgil (professor for environmental technology at the University of California, Berkeley)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Who are RobecoSAM?". Retrieved March 13, 2012. 
  2. ^ "SAM: Founding Voting Member (ASrIA Association for Sustainable and Responsible Investment in Asia)". Retrieved March 13, 2012. 
  3. ^ "SAM website: Sustainability Theme Investing". Retrieved March 13, 2012. 
  4. ^ "KPMG to provide consulting services based on RobecoSAM’s sustainability benchmarking reports". Retrieved March 13, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Global Macro, Industry & Clean Technology Review and Analysis". Retrieved Nov 8, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Centennial bios: Zurich". Retrieved Nov 8, 2012. 
  7. ^ "CSR Press Release". Retrieved Nov 8, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Bloomberg: SAM Smart Energy Fund". Retrieved Nov 8, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Financial News 2011 Winners". Retrieved Nov 8, 2012. 
  10. ^ "SAM Product Information". Retrieved Nov 8, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Climate Change and Ethical Investment Awards 2011 Winners". Retrieved Nov 8, 2012. 
  12. ^ Broom, Giles (February 28, 2011). "Syngenta, Mosaic Favored as SAM's Agribusiness Fund Sees Peak". Bloomberg. 
  13. ^ "FT/IFC Sustainable Finance Conference & Awards 2012". Retrieved Nov 8, 2012. 
  14. ^ a b "PR Newswire: Results Announced for 2012 Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes Review". Retrieved Nov 8, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Eurosif Member Affiliates: SAM". Retrieved Nov 8, 2012. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ "S&P Dow Jones Indices formed from merger of S&P Indices and Dow Jones Indexes". Retrieved Nov 8, 2012. 
  18. ^ "S&P Dow Jones Indices: Overview". Retrieved Nov 8, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Corporate Sustainability Performance and Idiosyncratic Risk: A global Perspective". Financial Review. 44: 213–237. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6288.2009.00216.x. Retrieved Nov 8, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Sustainable Investment: SAM Sustainable European Equities Fund". Retrieved Nov 8, 2012. 
  21. ^ "NedWater: Water, blue gold". Retrieved Nov 8, 2012. 
  22. ^ "Media Release: SAM Sustainable Water Fund celebrates 10 year anniversary" (PDF). Retrieved Nov 8, 2012. 
  23. ^ Sills, Ben (June 9, 2010). "Robeco's SAM Raises $200 Million for Clean-Technology Fund, Seeks More". Bloomberg. 
  24. ^ "Energy & Environmental Management: multinationals leading the clean tech investment boom". Retrieved Nov 8, 2012. 
  25. ^ "UNPRI Report: SAM Sustainable Asset Management AG" (PDF). Retrieved Nov 8, 2012. 
  26. ^ "Media Release: UN PRI Results announced" (PDF). Retrieved Nov 8, 2012. 
  27. ^ "Private Equity International 2010 Roll of honour". Retrieved Nov 8, 2012. 
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^ "CSR Europe: KPMG to provide consulting services based on SAM's sustainability benchmarking reports". Retrieved Nov 8, 2012. 
  31. ^ a b
  32. ^ Jones Sustainability Index
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External links[edit]