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Keeping you in-the-know on environmental, social and governance developments

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) postponed its upcoming guidance regarding fund names. Similar to the SEC’s recently updated “Fund Names Rule”,  the guidelines would require funds marketing themselves with ESG-related names to conform to certain sustainability requirements. The publication of other finance directives (the AIFMD and UCITS) are taking precedence over the Fund Names Guidelines for legal and political reasons. The press release from the ESMA announcing the release states:

“Since this work was launched, the AIFMD and UCITS Directive reviews have progressed. ESMA has decided to postpone the adoption of the Guidelines to ensure that the outcome of these reviews may be fully considered. In particular, the text of the provisional agreement resulting from the interinstitutional negotiations contains two new mandates for ESMA to develop guidelines specifying the circumstances where the name of an AIF or UCITS is unclear, unfair, or misleading.

ESMA plans to adopt the Guidelines shortly after the date of entry into force of those amended legal texts and is publishing this statement to highlight the key content of the guidance that it intends to provide in the upcoming Guidelines.”

The ESMA also announced that they will drop the guideline’s proposed threshold requiring at least 50% of a sustainably named fund to consist of sustainable investments. Instead, a looser requirement will be imposed requiring sustainable funds to “invest meaningfully” in the areas aligned with their naming. However, sustainably named funds will be required to:

  • “Apply the 80% minimum proportion of investments used to meet the sustainability characteristics or objectives,
  • Apply the Paris-aligned Benchmark (PAB) exclusions, and
  • Invest meaningfully in sustainable investments defined in Article 2(17) SFDR, reflecting the expectation investors may have based on the fund’s name.”

The Fund Names Guidelines are now expected in Q2 2024 after the conclusion of the ongoing review of the AIFMD and UCITS directives and their expected entry into force. The introduction of these guidelines will hopefully further confidence in sustainable finance and reduce greenwashing risks in European funds.

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The Editor

Zachary Barlow is a licensed attorney. He earned his JD from the University of Mississippi and has a bachelor’s in Public Policy Leadership. He practiced law at a mid-size firm and handled a wide variety of cases. During this time he assisted in overseeing compliance of a public entity and litigated contract disputes, gaining experience both in and outside of the courtroom. Zachary currently assists the editorial team by providing research and creating content on a spectrum of ESG… View Profile