Friday Funds: Philips Pensioenfonds aligns €370m EM equity portfolio with SDGs

The latest developments in ESG-related funds: Regenerative agriculture fund launched; RIZE ETF announces circular economy strategy.

Dutch pension fund Philips Pensioenfonds has collaborated with index provider Qontigo and BlackRock to align its €370 million emerging markets equity portfolio with several SDGs. The mandate, managed by BlackRock, tracks the iSTOXX PPF Responsible SDG Emerging Markets Index, a custom equity benchmark. The index overweights emerging market securities that positively contribute to SDGs 3, good health and wellbeing; 11, sustainable cities and communities; 12, responsible consumption and production; and 13, climate action. In addition, the methodology excludes companies that are obstructive to these SDGs, while targeting a carbon intensity reduction of 30 percent compared with its benchmark.

The equity portfolio represents around 2 percent of the pension fund’s total assets. The move follows the pension fund’s steps in 2021 to align its €4.5 billion developed markets equity portfolio – then almost 20 percent of its assets under management – to the same four SDGs, also in collaboration with Qontigo and BlackRock.

Impact and climate investment manager Regenerate Asset Management has launched a regenerative agriculture fund aimed at investing in companies that support Europe’s transition to regenerative farmland practices. The Regenerate European Sustainable Agriculture Fund received a cornerstone investment of around €150 million from M&G Investment’s Catalyst strategy. The fund will invest directly in agricultural businesses growing and supplying regenerative and climate positive produce in Europe, targeting companies focusing on sustainable food production and the transition to net zero.

Lombard Odier Investment Managers has committed $20 million from the Constitutional Reserve Fund of Monaco into its new plastic circularity strategy. It targets key themes including collection and sorting infrastructure, technology-enabled recycling infrastructure, design and production solutions for improved recyclability, and new usage models that extend the life of plastics by reusing, refilling or repairing plastic goods.

Thematic ETF issuer RIZE ETF has also announced its new circular economy strategy, which is listed in London and Frankfurt. The Rize Circular Economy Enablers UCITS ETF (CYCL) is Europe’s first Article 9 thematic ETF, according to the issuer. It specifically targets publicly-listed companies that are contributing to the EU Taxonomy’s objective of transitioning to a circular economy. The fund is also due to be listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange in the coming weeks.

French investment manager RAISE has launched an infrastructure fund to support the ecological transition of European infrastructure and to improve its environmental and social integration. RAISE Infrastructure – which is targeting €750 million – will provide financing for transition-linked investments and acquire key infrastructure assets that need to be decarbonised. The fund will also focus on biodiversity preservation as a key priority.

Bloomberg has announced a Commodity Carbon Tilted Index, designed to provide a reduced carbon profile while maintaining exposure to a diversified universe of physical commodities. The index is based on a new approach to measuring carbon emissions, resulting in overweighting commodities with a lower carbon footprint while minimising tracking error to Bloomberg’s flagship Bloomberg Commodity (BCOM) parent index.

Dutch bank ING has launched its fifth impact fund in its sustainability fund range. The SDG Impact Fund targets the 17 UN SDGs, looking at investing in companies that contribute to the environment and society. The Article 9 fund – initially launched in the Netherlands – will be announced in Europe later this year.

Brown Advisory has launched a US Sustainable Value Fund under its Dublin UCITS umbrella. The Article 8 fund invests in a portfolio of companies that have durable fundamental strengths, exhibit capital discipline, and that also benefit from sustainable competitive advantages. It identifies companies traditionally perceived as value stocks that are using sustainability to drive strong free cashflow. The strategy will be managed by portfolio manager Michael Poggi.