As part of Morgan Stanley's environmental initiative, the firm said last week it will acquire a minority equity stake in NGEN Partners LLC, a venture capital firm with energy sector expertise that invests in companies focused on clean technologies.

Morgan Stanley said the investment is the first by a major Wall Street firm in a clean technology venture firm and underscores its commitment to finding market-based solutions to environmental issues, as well as its belief in the business opportunities that stem from sustainable global development.

Founded in 2001, NGEN Partners invests in the cleantech sector. The firm invests in early to late stage businesses that offer "economically valuable" products and services that "positively affect" the environment. With a history in materials science, NGEN has expertise in alternative energy, energy efficiency, pollution abatement and green resources.

"Our stake in NGEN represents an exciting investment opportunity for Morgan Stanley that we believe can help deliver attractive returns both for our shareholders and the environment," said Jeff Holzschuh, chairman of the Morgan Stanley Environmental Committee. "[W]e believe there will be an increasing investment focus on these technologies in the years ahead as a result of rising energy prices, natural resource constraints and acceptance of climate changes as a global challenge."

Morgan Stanley's other recent environmental initiatives include:

Jim Butcher, director of Morgan Stanley's office of the environment, said, "The investment in NGEN builds on the actions that Morgan Stanley has taken in recent years to promote innovative solutions to environmental challenges, including the recent launch of the Morgan Stanley Carbon Bank to assist clients seeking to become carbon neutral. We are committed to considering environmental issues in all aspects of our business and assisting our clients as they do the same, and we believe this investment will allow us to leverage NGEN's expertise in Morgan Stanley's own advisory work."

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