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Hedge Funds Banking on Social and Moral Issues

DeLorenzo noted that although Islamic law prevents the taking of interest and allows investments only in tangible assets, he has configured a way to hedge using futures and options. The money behind Shariah Funds comes from wealthy investors in the Middle East and Asia, DeLorenzo said.

Other groups with religious affiliations have also launched hedge funds. Last year, Catholic Institutional Investors, a coalition of five Catholic health care organizations, launched the Good Steward Fund. And the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a private investment fund -- Ensign Peak Advisors -- to serve its Mormon constituents.

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Mission-oriented hedge funds fall into a category known as "socially responsible" investments that permit investors to grow financially while still adhering to their own individual social or moral preferences. Investment managers typically screen potential investments so that they match a client's beliefs.

Socially responsible investing is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the financial services industry, with more than $2 trillion of assets being managed in such fashion, according to the Social Investment Forum, a District-based nonprofit organization providing research and education.

The anti-Coke campaign has been called by its founders a "smart boycott." Goldsmith said he believes he can push Coca-Cola shares to as low as $22. They closed at $41.51 in Thursday trading on the New York Stock Exchange. U.S. financial markets were closed yesterday.

"Coke represents the cutting edge of a global monoculture that is undermining real human diversity," said Goldsmith, 29, who is the son of a famed British corporate raider, the late Sir James Goldsmith.

With a reported inheritance of about $700 million, Goldsmith could wage a formidable battle against Coca-Cola via his family's magazine, the Ecologist, where he is founding editor.

Coca-Cola has issued numerous statements clarifying its positions on the corporate issues at which Goldsmith and Keiser are taking aim.

"This so-called campaign is based on blatant falsehoods," said Ben Deutsch, a Coca-Cola spokesman. "It's unfortunate that anyone would attempt to hurt Coke shareholders . . . without the facts."

Investors in the unnamed anti-Coca-Cola fund will get a stated annual return akin to a long-term Treasury bond. But, after a 2 percent management fee, the rest of profits will go to aid disaffected farmers in India, AIDS organizations in Africa and human rights monitoring groups in Central and South America.

"We're now focused on closing a $100 million fund by the end of 2005," said Keiser, who founded Karmabanque.com, the Web site through which the anti-Coca-Cola campaign is being managed.


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