Humane Society Sponsoring Citi's Animal-Friendly Fund
Talley, Karen, American Banker
Citigroup Inc. is teaming up with the Humane Society of the United States to launch a mutual fund that invests exclusively in animal-friendly companies.
The Humane Equity Fund, which Citigroup and the Humane Society plan to begin marketing in January, is the first investment product that the 45-year-old animal rights group has sponsored.
The effort also marks the first time Citigroup will approach a fund supermarket -- such as those operated by Charles Schwab & Co. and Fidelity Investments -- about distributing its mutual funds, said Daniel R. Darst, senior vice president and head of U.S. retail marketing for SSB Citi Asset Management Group.
The fund, which will carry no load, will also be sold through a toll-free number that will be advertised nationally in print and broadcast media.
The Humane Equity Fund will not invest in companies that do research or experiment on animals, which rules out certain pharmaceutical and medical operations, as well as some cosmetics companies. The fund also will avoid companies that process or sell meat, which eliminates certain consumer operations and meat packagers.
SSB Citi will require a $1,000 investment and charge annual operating expenses of 145 basis points per dollar. The fee, while high for a mutual fund, is expected to come down as the portfolio gathers assets.
Citigroup sees the fund as "a logical progression" in the socially aware investing that the company already does, Mr. …