June 21 (Reuters) – Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) has returned to the S&P 500 ESG index, the sustainable investing-focused market index, after the electric car maker added environmental disclosures.
Tesla was cut from the index last year because of issues including claims of racial discrimination and crashes linked to its autopilot vehicles. The removal prompted Chief Executive Elon Musk to responds with tweets such as “ESG is a scam”.
The re-inclusion of Tesla is largely symbolic because only about $8 billion in assets track the S&P 500 ESG index, a tiny fraction of the $15.6 trillion in assets that track the S&P 500 index, according to its provider, part of S&P Global (SPGI.N).
“It is more a soft benefit so people will have more confidence that the company is indeed relatively ESG friendly,” said Todd Rosenbluth, head of research at financial research firm VettaFi.
Tesla was among 39 companies added to the S&P 500 ESG index effective May 1 as part of an annual rebalancing. Other companies added included Chevron (CVX.N) and Fox (FOXA.O), while 23 companies were removed including Exxon (XOM.N) and Oracle (ORCL.N).
Tesla, Chevron and Oracle did not respond to requests for comment. Exxon and Fox declined to comment.
An S&P spokesperson said Tesla fared better this year, “especially on environmental factors, which are material for a company in the automobiles industry.” Tesla gave information about its assessment of physical climate risks and of ESG considerations in its supply chain management strategy, the spokesperson added.
Recent ESG-related matters at Tesla include a $3.2 million discrimination verdict against the company. S&P said it has a review underway that “relates to racial discrimination in Tesla factories,” which could impact future scores.
Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Lisa Shumaker
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