Booming Man Group set to go carbon neutral

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The Independent Online

The hedge fund giant Man Group revealed plans yesterday to become one of the first FTSE 100 companies to go completely carbon-neutral, reducing the number of flights its staff take, and committing to pay "carbon offsets" on the environmentally-unfriendly activities which it cannot avoid.

Speaking at the company's annual results - which saw it report better than expected pre-tax profits of $1.31bn (£699m) - its chief executive, Stanley Fink, let slip his plans for an environmental overhaul of the company, which are to be formally unveiled in the group's annual report.

Under the scheme, Man Group will go further to reduce its use of carbon-emitting transport and energy sources, while committing to paying offsets to one of a handful of environmental charities for the damage it causes to the environment. These charities then plant more trees, invest in sustainable energy sources such as wind farms, or provide subsidies to factories in developing countries, to allow them to burn natural gas instead of coal.

The group will also incentivise its employees to make a greater effort in their personal lives - offering to match any carbon-offsets which they agree to pay relating to their own lives.

"We already buy recycled paper, [and] use video-conferencing to cut down on travel," said Mr Fink. "But like any other large business, we leave a carbon footprint on the earth as do our employees. We have plans to make Man Group carbon neutral.

"There are a number of projects you can do which cumulatively remove effects of the residual carbon you can't remove through conservation."

The move continues the trend of large British companies investing in better environmental practices. Last month, Tesco announced it was investing £100m in increasing its energy efficiency and cutting carbon emissions.

Man Group's move came as it announced a strong set of results for the year to the end of March, recording a 51 per cent rise in profits compared to the previous year, and a 16 per cent rise in assets under management.

Its shares rose almost 3.5 per cent on the news, to £24.20, boosted by the news that its assets have grown a further 8 per cent to $54bn in the two months since the end of its financial year. Man has a market value of £7.43bn.

The group's profits were boosted by a strong performance in its AHL fund - one of its largest vehicles with assets of some $15bn. However, Mr Fink said the group had also raised a good level of new business over the year.

"The board is very confident about the group's prospects for the coming year and about the opportunities which lie ahead," he said.

Analysts said they expected the group to restart its share buyback programme this summer. Man halted the buybacks when it bought the futures brokerage business of Refco towards the end of last year for $323m.