Desjardins launches SocieTerra portfolios, a new socially responsible product line



    In accordance with its cooperative values and principles, Desjardins
    Group will strengthen its leadership position in this sector through this
    new offering

    LEVIS, QC, Jan. 22 /CNW Telbec/ - Desjardins Group, the largest
cooperative financial group in Canada, is pleased to announce the creation of
SocieTerra socially responsible investment portfolios. These new portfolios,
which have been added to Desjardins Funds' product offering, are the first
socially responsible funds structured to meet the specific needs of various
investor profiles. The SocieTerra portfolios were developed in partnership
with The Ethical Funds Company, Canada's leader in socially responsible
investing (SRI). Desjardins holds a 50% ownership stake in Ethical Funds
through its subsidiary Northwest & Ethical Investments L.P.
    With its Environment Funds, created in 1990, Desjardins Group became a
pioneer in the Canadian socially responsible investment market. SRI goals are
a natural match for Desjardins Group's cooperative values and principles,
which include social responsibility and a commitment to sustainable
development. Furthermore, Desjardins reaffirmed this commitment through the
adoption of its own sustainable development policy in 2005.
    The new portfolios, which comprise the Desjardins Environment Fund and
eight Ethical Funds are named: SocieTerra Secure Market; SocieTerra Balanced;
SocieTerra Growth; and SocieTerra Growth Plus. These portfolios, which have no
front-end load fees, are now available to Desjardins members and their clients
through the Desjardins' caisse/branch network across Quebec and Ontario.

    Financial and non-financial criteria

    Like all investment funds, the primary objective of the SocieTerra
portfolios is to increase unitholders' assets. Unique in the Canadian socially
responsible investment market, these investments are designed to suit the
investor's profile. Because they are socially responsible, the SocieTerra
portfolios add non-financial criteria to the parameters of the traditional
financial analysis, which is carried out during the selection process of the
companies which compose the funds. This process distinguishes SRI funds from
traditional investment funds.
    Having non-financial criteria enables the funds which make up the
SocieTerra portfolios to invest in corporations that have adopted responsible
behaviour. In doing so, these funds facilitate the positive development of
corporate environmental, social and governance practices. The SocieTerra
portfolios rely on an investment diversification strategy in all sectors of
economic activity, excluding the weapons, nuclear and tobacco sectors.
    "Quebecers are more and more sensitive to the individual and collective
benefits related to socially responsible investment. Desjardins Group is proud
to play a leadership role in this sector and promote this type of investment
for the benefit of its members and the community as a whole," said Normand
Paquin, Desjardins' Senior Vice President, Investment Funds and Trust
Services.

    Shareholder Action Program

    As part of its commitment to socially responsible investing, Desjardins
aims to influence corporate practices and mitigate the negative effects of
these practices on the environment and communities. Through the Shareholder
Action Program, developed and managed by The Ethical Funds Company, Desjardins
and its partner follow various action strategies, that include dialoguing with
corporations, submitting shareholder proposals and exercising the right to
vote at annual meetings.
    "For Desjardins Group, socially responsible investing is much more than a
symbol. The Shareholder Action Program ensures SocieTerra portfolio holders
that Desjardins and its partner, The Ethical Funds Company, play an active
role in socially responsible investing," said Mr. Paquin.

    About Desjardins Funds

    With some $10 billion in assets, Desjardins Funds is among the largest
mutual fund families in Canada. Desjardins Funds offers members and clients
investment products and solutions that meet their requirements, expectations
and needs for wealth protection and growth.

    About Desjardins Group

    Desjardins Group is the largest cooperative financial group in Canada,
with overall assets of $150 billion, as at September 30, 2008. It comprises a
network of caisses, credit unions and business centres in Quebec and Ontario,
and some twenty subsidiary companies in life and general insurance, securities
brokerage, venture capital and asset management, many of which are active
across the country. Drawing on the expertise of its 40,000 employees and the
commitment of more than 6,500 elected officers, Desjardins offers its 5.8
million individual and corporate members and clients a full range of financial
products and services. Its physical distribution network is complemented by
leading-edge virtual access methods. To find out more, consult site
www.desjardins.com.




For further information:

For further information: (for media only): André Chapleau, Director,
Information and Media Relations, (514) 281-7229, 1-866-866-7000, ext. 7229,
andre.chapleau@desjardins.com


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