€2.3bn German church bank awards sustainable bond mandate to boutique

Church bank taps Frankfurt boutique Johannes Führ AM

Bank im Bistum Essen (BiB), a bank for the Catholic Church in Essen, Germany, that has €2.3bn in assets, has committed €10m to a new sustainable corporate bond fund that will be managed by Johannes Führ Asset Management (JFAM), a Frankfurt boutique.

According to JFAM, the fund’s volume is set to increase to €25m by December, following commitments from other German investors associated with the BiB. “These investors are mostly pension funds (for church employees),” said a JFAM spokesman.

JFAM is selecting the bonds according to BiB’s stringent environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria. As a result, issuers with significant revenues from weapons, stem cell research, abortion, alcohol, tobacco, nuclear energy, gambling and pornography will be excluded. Also banned are those that violate international labour standards by employing child or slave labour.

The ESG research on the issuers is supplied by imug, a sustainable rating agency based in Hanover. The fund’s administration is being handled by Monega, a fund company owned in part by German private bank Sal. Oppenheim.

Said Thomas Homm, head of investments at BiB: “Through our cooperation with Johannes Führ Asset Management and imug we expect that the sustainable fund will have a good performance over the long term and outperform similar products.”BiB has 61% of its assets in government and corporate debt. Equities, including a shareholding in WGZ, a central bank for German cooperative banks like BiB, as well as real estate, account for another 13% of the portfolio. The remainder (26%) is in cash.

“We expect good performance over the long term”

In related news, JFAM founder Johannes Führ has resigned as chairman of the firm’s advisory board. He announced that he had acquired another Frankfurt asset management boutique called VCH. VCH, which had been foundering due both to loss of portfolio managers and clients, will be renamed Führ Capital Partners.

Führ has brought in three colleagues from JFAM: spokesman Oliver Heidecker, sales chief Jürgen Detering and portfolio manager Markus Mitrovski. Industry sources say Führ intends to challenge JFAM after being forced out.

Since Führ and his wife launched JFAM in 1998, it built a reputation as a bond fund specialist and currently manages around €1bn for private and institutional clients.

Link (German)