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MetLife gets Affirmative in a win for impact

MetLife’s institutional asset management business has acquired $1.5 billion impact bond manager Affirmative Investment Management (AIM) as it looks to build out its internal sustainability capabilities.
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“What’s positive is we have a large financial services firm buying an authentic provider,” says Kate Temby, partner at AIM. “And that’s exactly what the regulators are looking at – if you’re doing anything with impact, or doing anything with ESG, you have to have some basis behind it.”

Co-founded by Stephen Fitzgerald, a former fixed income CIO at Goldman Sachs Asset Management who previously served on the Board of Guardians for the Future Fund, AIM was born out of the green bond team from Nikko. It now manages $1.5 billion in global fixed income mandates, including for Sunsuper (now part of ART) and a Japanese pension fund, and has retail distribution in Australia through the Colonial First State platform.

MetLife Investment Management (MIM) has FUM of US$590 billion. The deal is now waiting on regulatory approval from the UK regulator.

“When they saw the authenticity of what we’d built, they wanted to build their sustainability capability,” Temby said. “Many other US managers have impact and sustainable offerings. MIM have a philosophy that they want to go with capability rather than product first.”

The deal will allow AIM to build out its credit team – MIM will bring 70 credit personnel to AIM’s four – and give it a hefty distribution presence in the United States, while Temby anticipates that MIM will broaden distribution of its other asset management capabilities Down Under, where MetLife is mostly known as an insurer. Temby believes there’s opportunities to overlay AIM’s proprietary impact verification capabilities onto MIM’s private credit division, as well as in general purpose transition bonds to fund firms’ transition to net zero.

“The feedback from consultants in Australia is that the market is ready for general purpose transition – that’s what the story is going to be about,” Temby said. “We’re really excited about coming together with MIM and delivering returns with impact.”




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