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Title: Exploring the role of ESG for the performance and risks of infrastructure investing: evidence from the international funds' market
Authors: Baldi, Francesco 
Lambertides, Neophytos 
Major Field of Science: Social Sciences
Field Category: Economics and Business
Keywords: ESG;Infrastructure funds;Net asset value;Sharpe ratio;CO2 emissions;ESG controversies
Issue Date: 1-Jan-2023
Source: Managerial Finance, 2023
Journal: Managerial Finance 
Abstract: Purpose: This study investigates the relation between ESG-driven investment strategies and the performance of infrastructure funds. More specifically, this study examines the impact of the different dimensions – environmental (E), social (S) and governance (G) – of the ESG profile of infrastructure funds on their performance. Design/methodology/approach: To study the risk-return properties of infrastructure funds and the relationship with their ESG profiles, an econometric analysis is conducted, based on a sample of 180 listed, ESG-oriented infrastructure funds identified through Refinitiv Eikon. Findings: The results show that infrastructure funds with more solid environmental investment policies experience a lower performance, while those with a stronger social orientation yield a superior performance. Governance-related investment policies seem trivial in determining the performance of these funds. Further analysis shows that ESG controversies have a negative impact on infrastructure funds' performance, whereas Emissions and Resource Use scores, both proxying for different elements under the environmental pillar, have opposite signs. Finally, the Community score has a positive impact on funds' performance consistent with the positive impact of the social pillar score. The study also provides a number of sub-sample analyses to shed light on the conditions under which each pillar has significant impact on funds’ performance. Practical implications: First, infrastructure funds should choose the composition of their portfolio holdings in a way that the total return is not penalized by the prevalence of the tricky E aspects (compliance with environmental regulations) over the main benefits of the S dimension. Second, fund managers need to bet on infrastructures with an expected impact on the social pillar dimension such as those aimed at promoting the wealth of the local communities (e.g. hospitals, schools). Third, to strengthen the fund's social dimension, fund managers must increase the dollar amount of the assets under management to count on a higher firepower. Originality/value: This study makes three contributions to literature. First, the ESG profiles of the infrastructure funds operating both at local and global level and their relationship with annual performance are studied. Second, the different dimensions of the ESG profile of infrastructure funds are investigated by measuring their impact on performance. Third, the study sheds light on some detailed but relevant aspects of this phenomenon by analyzing the breakdown of the ESG profile of infrastructure funds into four sustainability sub-scores capturing their efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, the use of polluting materials and to influence local communities as well their exposure to the risk of litigation due to the occurrence of ESG controversies. This study addresses the extent to which the adoption of ESG investment policies by the infrastructure funds have an impact on their performances.
ISSN: 03074358
DOI: 10.1108/MF-01-2023-0024
Rights: © Emerald Publishing Limited
Type: Article
Affiliation : University of Turin 
Guido Carli University 
Cyprus University of Technology 
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