AXA Investment Managers has made its long-awaited entry into the European ETF market with the launch of a new platform focusing on active thematic ETFs.

The French asset manager, which has been hotly tipped to enter the market since it appointed Brieuc Louchard as head of capital markets in March, said it will start its ETF journey with the launch of two strategies targeting biodiversity and the climate.

The actively-managed AXA IM ACT Biodiversity Equity UCITS ETF (ABIU) will list today on Deutsche Boerse while the AXA IM ACT Climate Equity UCITS ETF will follow “in a couple of weeks”, Hans Stoter, global head of AXA IM Core, told ETF Stream.

Both ETFs will be benchmarked against the MSCI AC World Total Return Net index and have total expense ratios (TER) of 0.70%.

ABIU will align four of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals; clean water and sanitation, responsible consumption and production, life below water and life on land.

Both the biodiversity ETF and the climate ETF will be labelled Article 9 under the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR). AXA IM described the products as impact ETFs, in that they have the dual objective of delivering long-term financial growth and a positive measurable impact on the environment.

The firm added the ETF range will leverage its existing portfolio management team to select stocks for each strategy.

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Commenting on the launch of its new platform, Stoter (pictured) said the evolution of the ETFs means it is the opportune moment to enter the market.

“With the ETF market now evolving beyond what has historically been passive indexing to more customised index tracking, and now active investment strategies. For us, it is the opportune moment to bring active strategies in an ETF wrapper to our client base,” he continued.

“We are taking our investment strategies, especially those with a strong focus on responsible investing, and introducing them to our buyer base that are interested in the benefits of ETFs.”

He added the ETF wrapper’s enhanced liquidity and transparency make it an attractive proposition to sit aside the firm’s mutual fund offering.

Active ETFs is a growing area of the European ETF market, with JP Morgan Asset Management, Fidelity and Invesco all expanding their active ranges this year.

According to Bloomberg Intelligence, there are currently 45 active ETFs in Europe which house $15.8bn of assets under management (AUM), although this is growing rapidly.

Marco Morelli, executive chairman of AXA IM, added: “To meet the changing demands of investors we must continue to innovate and enhance our investment offering, and through the launch of this new platform we do this by combining our active investment insight with the flexibility of an ETF.

“With the support of AXA and leveraging our key strengths, primarily within active management and responsible investing strategies, this platform will complement our existing fund range while answering client demand for ETF structured vehicles.”

In June, AXA IM gave its biggest hint yet that it would be entering the ETF space after it said the ETF wrapper would be “attractive” to its clients.

In reality, the French asset manager’s ETF proposition had been a year in the making.

“We identified that strategic opportunity about a year ago and started to plan our platform. We wanted to bring it to life ourselves and have full control over what we do and how we do it,” Stoter said.

AXA IM said the range will not initially be registered in the UK while it “assesses demand for actively managed ETF strategies”.

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