Environmental, Social and Governance-Ratings and Risk in Sweden

University essay from Umeå universitet/Företagsekonomi; Umeå universitet/Företagsekonomi

Abstract: Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) are increasingly important subjects in today's society. To measure a company's Corporate Social Performance (CSP); the ESG-rating has been developed throughout the years. As investors and the public are starting to acknowledge a company's sustainable actions and the importance of these, more and more companies choses to be rated using ESG-rating. As the knowledge around the subject has started to increase, we want to find out if it affects the risk of a company or an investment? Theories relating to the topic, such as stakeholder theory, suggests that satisfying all of a company’s stakeholders creates value for a company. Previous studies in the topic has interpreted this as high ESG-ratings should equal lower risks for the company. Additionally, previous studies in the relationship between sustainability and profitability shows a positive correlation between the two, meaning that companies that incorporate sustainability in general have higher profits. The purpose of this study is to investigate if high ESG-ratings could lead to lower firm’s risk in Sweden. There has been a lot of previous research in the area, but none focusing on Sweden. The majority of the previous studies have concluded that there exists a negative relationship between CSP and a firm’s risk, which indicates that if a company would integrate CSR it could lower the risk. This study will include 145 Swedish companies with 2,610 firm-year observations from the period 2001-12-21 to 2019-12-31. The risk measures used are; Total Risk (Volatility), Systematic Risk (Beta) and Idiosyncratic Risk. As for the ESG-ratings, the data is obtained from ASSET4 from the database Thomson Reuters Eikon as the measure of CSP. Furthermore a multiple regression analysis is performed to statistically investigate the relationship between a company's ESG-rate (and the three pillars Environmental, Social and Governance) and risk. The study concluded that there exists a statistically significant positive relationship between Volatility and Idiosyncratic Risk and the ESG-score for Swedish firms. As for the individual pillars; Environmental (ENV), Social (SOC) and Governance (GOV); the result indicated that there existed a statistically significant positive relationship between Volatility and Idiosyncratic Risk with the two pillars; ENV and GOV, respectively. This suggests that the higher ESG-score, ENV and GOV-scores of Swedish firms the higher Volatility and Idiosyncratic Risk. Neither Volatility or Idiosyncratic risk showed a statistically significant relationship with the social pillar. Consequently we are not able to confirm the relationship between Volatility and Idiosyncratic Risk with the Social pillar. Regarding Beta, the study found no statistically significant relationship with the ESG-score, as well as for the individual pillars; Environmental, Social and Governance. Therefore we are not able to confirm a relationship for Beta and the ESG-score, ENV, SOC and GOV-scores. As a final remark this study concluded the opposite as for previous research and consequently this thesis has contributed with new knowledge within the area of ESG-rating and risk for Swedish companies.

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