LONDON - Environmental investment manager Impax Asset Management Group Plc is preparing to capitalize on the buzz around the Copenhagen summit to tap into new markets in the United States, the group's CEO said on Wednesday.

Ian Simm said Impax had signed a distribution deal with Wisconsin-based, London-listed Titanium Asset Management at the end of last week, targeting U.S. pension schemes as the ripples from the climate change debate wake up new clients to the prospect of profiting from the sector.

The U.S. pension plan market has hitherto been fairly uninterested in this sector, but with all the positive news and data, has started to show that they are interested, Simm told Reuters.

In the United States most people hadn't even heard of climate change eighteen months ago.

By investing across renewable energy, water treatment and energy efficiency, and by tapping into such themes as population growth and energy security, Simm said Impax was hopeful of making an investment case even to global warming skeptics.

He also urged people to manage expectations for the Copenhagen summit, which runs to next Friday.

This is almost certainly going to be the start of a process which will inevitably drag on. One shouldn't be too cynical about the political declaration of victory at the end of session... When one looks under the bonnet it will probably be quite limited in detail, he said.


Since hitting a trough at 889 million pounds ($1.45 billion) at the end of March, Impax assets have recovered sharply, reaching 1.42 billion pounds by the end of November.

Simm said net inflows of client money over the year to September 30 were about 45 million pounds, boosted by a deluge of good news around government subsidies in the second half.

Impax has since raised 100 million pounds in an Asian fund IPO and got 80 million euros from part of a European institutional mandate.

The next 12 months are looking very strong. We're in a very benign market environment... We're already seeing a lot more interest from distributors and institutions, said Simm.

He expects Scandinavia -- already predisposed to investment in the sector -- to offer a crucial boost to flows through a distribution deal with BNP Paribas' investment arm.

Impax has been adding staff through the back end of the financial crisis in anticipation of future growth and Simm said this helped to explain a fall in full-year pretax profit to 2.5 million pounds from 3.5 million a year ago. Revenue was down 9 percent to 10.4 million pounds, affected by falling equity markets throughout the year.

Impax shares, which have risen over 87 percent in the year, were 1.37 percent lower at 36.3 pence by 1001 GMT, while the AIM market fell slightly.

However, analysts at Noble were upbeat on the results, raising their price target to 47 pence, and highlighting the prospect for increased interest in the wake of Copenhagen.

($1=.6155 Pound)

(Additional reporting by Shivani Singh; editing by Deepak Kannan and Karen Foster)