Clean Investor, June 14: First close for new Unigestion-Ethos environmental fund

RI’s regular Tuesday review of clean investing news

Asset manager Unigestion has announced the first closing of the Unigestion-Ethos Environmental Sustainability Fund. The fund will invest in 12 to 14 private equity funds in the energy efficiency, alternative energy production, water treatment and pollution control sectors. It will combine with Swiss foundation Ethos and a committee of sustainability experts to “implement responsible investment processes that promote engagement with general partners and provide transparency to investors”.

SAM Private Equity, the unlisted investments arm of Sustainable Asset Management, has led a $15.7m follow-on investment round at environmentally friendly flame retardant maker FRX Polymers of Massachusetts. “FRX’s products are unique and are meeting an important and growing market need within the green materials segment of the Cleantech field,” said Keimpe Keuning, Senior Investment Manager at SAM PE.

The C$16bn (€11.4bn) Ontario Pension Board and Canada Life Assurance have provided an up to C$45m debt facility for a 31.5MW wind power project in Nova Scotia. The Amherst facility is being developed by Sprott Power Corp. and Firelight Infrastructure Partners; construction is already underway and is expected to be completed in early 2012. Link

The Connecticut General Assembly has voted to set up the new Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA) which will take over the state’s existing Clean Energy Fund, according to reports. CEFIA will essentially the US’s first full-scale “green bank”.

Only a fraction of the world’s biggest companies are adequately managing water risks, according to a new report – A drought in your portfolio: are global companies responding to water scarcity? – from researcher EIRIS. It found that 54% of 2,000 global companies analysed are exposed to water risks but take little or no action to mitigate them.

The Nordic Investment Bank has announced a new environmental loan programme totalling €30m signed with Poland’s Bank Ochrony Srodowiska (BOS Bank). NIB funds will be used for projects promoting renewable energy solutions, energy-efficiency measures and wastewater treatment systems.The Carbon Disclosure Project, which represents 551 institutional investors with $71trn in assets, has called on the UK government to “seize the opportunity” and adopt mandatory carbon reporting for UK companies. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) consultation on the issue ends on July 5.

A bill to introduce forestry bonds has been tabled in the US. The Community Forestry Conservation Act “would enable non-profit conservation organizations to use bonds to purchase private, working forests for long-term environmental and economic sustainability management” said the bill’s sponsors.

Henderson Global Investors has published carbon audits of two of its funds, the Global Care UK Income Fund and the Industries of the Future Fund. They were responsible for 407 and 241 tonnes of carbon per $1m invested – which the firm said means they generated 34% and 61% of ‘carbon outperformance’ respectively.

The planned C$1bn (€711m) acquisition of Canadian timber firm TimberWest Forest Corp. by pension funds British Columbia Investment Management Corp. and the Public Sector Pension Investment Board has been backed by proxy advisory firms ISS Governance Services and Glass Lewis. The deal is facing opposition from First Nations groups.

The World Bank’s IFC is backing renewable energy projects in South Asia. It is investing $3.8m in Sri Lanka’s SENOK Group to help it diversify its portfolio to include wind-power projects that will boost the generation of renewable energy and increase the country’s power sources. And it’s putting $4m into India’s Sapphire Industrial Infrastructures to implement the country’s first large-scale grid-connected thin-film solar plant.

The North Carolina Department of State Treasurer has conducted a survey of how real estate fund managers for the North Carolina Retirement Systems address climate risk. The study found that “there is a spectrum of concern and activities within investment firms that focus on climate change and energy efficiency”.

Asset manager Schroders last week raised its stake in solar tech firm PV Crystalox Solar PLC to just over 11% – up from the 10.2% disclosed in April. The company makes silicon ingots and wafers for solar power systems.