Navigating the Landscape: The Integration of ESG Factors into Business Valuation

Published on : June 4, 2024

Author : Raj Shroff & Srujan Poojary

In the dynamic world of finance and investment, the integration of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors into business valuation has become a paramount consideration. As the global business community grapples with the requirements of sustainability and responsible corporate practices, investors are increasingly recognizing the need to go beyond traditional financial metrics. This article explores the multifaceted realm of ESG, delving into its significance, the process of integrating these factors into business valuation, challenges encountered in this endeavour and the highlights of Business Responsibility and Sustainability Reporting (“BRSR”) Core which has been introduced recently.

Understanding ESG & Its Importance

ESG encompasses a triad of critical factors that collectively shape a company’s approach to sustainability, ethical practices, and corporate governance. Environmental criteria evaluate a company’s impact on the planet, social criteria gauge its relationships with stakeholders, and governance criteria assess the internal structures guiding decision-making. The importance of ESG lies in its ability to provide a holistic view of a company, reflecting its commitment to long-term resilience, ethical conduct, and positive societal impact. Investors are increasingly recognizing that companies with robust ESG practices are not only better equipped to manage risks but are also likely to be more resilient in the face of evolving market dynamics.

Source: FTSE Russel

Integration of ESG into Valuation

The integration of ESG factors into business valuation marks a paradigm shift in how companies are assessed for investment. Traditional valuation methods are being augmented with ESG considerations, as investors seek a more comprehensive understanding of a company’s performance and its ability to create long-term value. ESG integration involves analyzing a company’s ESG practices and assigning a quantitative value to these intangible factors. Below are ways to incorporate the ESG impact under the market and income approach:

The Market Approach:

To account for ESG considerations, valuation under the market approach should:

Identify and assess ESG practices for comparable companies and industries, then

Assess the performance of the subject company for such criteria, and

Calibrate the market inputs to the subject entity to take into account the relevant performance as compared to the comparable companies.

    An example for adjusting the ESG factor under market approach is as follows:

    A significant limitation of this method is that ESG data, disclosures, and rating systems are currently in their early stages of development, particularly for entities that are often private companies. Consequently, the scoring process is subjective, as different practitioners may assign varying weightings or scores to distinct ESG factors and practices implemented by companies.

    The Income Approach:

    To account for ESG considerations, valuation under the income approach should consider its impact on the discount rate or cash flows itself.

    While discount rate adjustments can be used to incorporate ESG into the Discounted Cashflow approach (DCF), adjusting the discount rate may lead to double counting if beta values have reflected the market’s perspectives on ESG risks. A better way of integrating ESG factors in the DCF can be to adjust future cash flows. This helps the investor to integrate the company’s ESG factors into future cash flows and thus to focus on the relevant material issues. Depending on different industries and company performances, the translation of ESG factors to cash flow adjustments varies. Hence industry to industry lens is very critical since there is no standardized benchmark in ESG integration and adopting industry and company specific value drivers could help avoid the ambiguity of the cash flow adjustments. Some of the adjustments to be considered include:

    The “E” factor can be incorporated by adjusting the cashflows with additional costs and Capex investments in carbon reduction initiatives and costs savings from adoption of energy/water saving technology.

    The “S” factor can be incorporated through adjusting costs related to employee training programs, hiring contractual employees on a permanent basis, workplace safety measures and research and development investments to ensure quality and safe products among others.

    The “G” factor can be incorporated through adjusting for fines or penalties imposed by regulatory authorities due to weak governance policies of companies.

    An example for adjusting the ESG factor under income approach is as follows:

    Issues in Integrating ESG Factors in Valuation

    While the integration of ESG factors into business valuation is gaining momentum, it is not without its challenges. One key issue is the lack of standardized metrics and reporting frameworks, making it difficult for investors to compare ESG performance across companies. Additionally, there are concerns about “greenwashing,” where companies may overstate their ESG credentials to appear more attractive to investors. Striking a balance between qualitative and quantitative assessment poses another challenge, as some ESG factors are inherently subjective and context-dependent. Overcoming these challenges requires the development of standardized reporting practices, increased transparency, and ongoing dialogue between investors and companies.

    BRSR Core Framework

    Recent developments in the ESG landscape include the introduction of the BRSR Core Framework by SEBI, an extension of the existing BRSR framework which delves deeper into ESG integration by providing specific requirements for reporting and assurance. This framework aims to enhance transparency and accountability for companies and further elevate the role of ESG in business valuation.

    Key Features of BRSR Core:

    Specificity: The framework defines a specific set of ESG indicators that companies must report on, – covering environmental, social, and governance aspects. This specificity ensures consistency and comparability across companies, facilitating easier analysis and assessment for investors.

    Assurance: BRSR Core introduces mandatory assurance requirements for a subset of reported ESG information. This independent verification enhances the credibility and reliability of ESG data, reducing the risk of greenwashing and building investor confidence.

    Value Chain Focus: The framework extends beyond a company’s own operations to include its value chain, requiring reporting on the sustainability practices of its suppliers and partners. This broader scope provides a more comprehensive picture of a company’s overall impact and promotes responsible sourcing practices.

    Phased Implementation: BRSR Core’s implementation is phased, starting with the top 1000 listed entities by market capitalization. This gradual approach allows companies to adapt and implement the framework while minimizing disruption.

    Impact on Business Valuation:

    Enhanced Data for Valuation Models: The BRSR Core’s specific and assured ESG data provides valuable input for valuation models, enabling a more comprehensive assessment of a company’s long-term value and risk profile.

    Better Risk Assessment: Deeper insights into a company’s ESG performance through the value chain helps identify potential environmental, social, and governance risks that could impact financial performance.

    Improved Comparability: The standardized reporting and assurance requirements facilitate easier comparison of ESG performance across companies, enabling investors to make more informed investment decisions based on ESG considerations.

    BRSR Core represents a significant step towards a more integrated and transparent ESG landscape. The BRSR Core framework is still evolving, and its impact on business valuation is likely to grow as companies adapt and investors refine their assessment methods. Ongoing collaboration between regulators, investors, companies, and valuation professionals is crucial to ensure the effectiveness and continued improvement of the framework. Addressing data availability and accessibility, particularly for smaller companies, remains a challenge that needs to be tackled to ensure fair and equitable application of the framework.


    In conclusion, the integration of ESG factors into business valuation is a transformative trend that reflects the evolving priorities of investors and the broader business ecosystem. ESG considerations are no longer peripheral but integral to evaluating a company’s overall performance and potential for sustained success. While challenges persist, the ongoing evolution of reporting frameworks like BRSR signals a commitment to addressing these issues and advancing the integration of ESG into mainstream financial practices. As businesses navigate this new landscape, embracing ESG not only contributes to a more sustainable future but also positions companies as leaders in an era where responsible practices are synonymous with long-term value creation.