Friday Funds: Planet First Partners closes second funding round on €450m

The latest developments in ESG-related funds: Ilmarinen switches €17bn to MSCI climate index; Redwheel launches Climate Engagement Fund.

Planet First Partners has closed its second funding round on €450 million, following a commitment from Inga Investments. The Article 9 fund had an initial target size of €350 million but was oversubscribed after gaining interest from a range of investors. Capital raised from this second funding round will be deployed to companies in their growth stage that are seeking to support the transition to a sustainable economy. With investments of up to €50 million, Planet First Partners will take minority positions as lead or co-lead investor with a board seat and strong minority rights.

Finnish pension insurer Ilmarinen has switched €17 billion of listed equities to MSCI’s Climate Action index. The fund previously used ESG benchmark indices for its internally managed equity investments. Ilmarinen has set a target for its investment portfolio to be carbon neutral by 2035. Mikko Mursula, deputy CEO, said the company has used ESG benchmark indices for a long time but they are “not enough to steer its portfolio towards carbon neutrality”.

Redwheel has launched a UK Climate Engagement Fund with the aim of progressing carbon-intensive companies’ transition plans. The Article 8 fund will incorporate an explicit climate aim through active engagement to align portfolio companies with the Paris Agreement. The strategy, supported by Greenwheel, will be managed by the investment manager’s UK income and value team, and led by portfolio manager John Teahan.

Morningstar research has found that rebranded sustainable funds saw a noticeable increase in inflows in the months prior to and following the time of rebranding. Rebranded funds posted net outflows on average in the 12-month period preceding the rebranding date and registered net inflows over the nine months following the rebranding date. Inflow growth decelerated and stabilised after this period. Regulatory action, including the EU Action Plan on sustainable finance in 2018 and the implementation of SFDR in 2021, changed the way asset managers were required to report on their funds, which led to a surge in rebranding activity. The biggest improvement was seen for high and severe controversies, thermal coal and carbon risk exposure. The research is based on 975 rebranded funds between 1 January 2018 and 30 November 2022.

Calamos Investments has launched a Global Sustainable Equities ETF in partnership with NBA player Giannis Antetokounmpo. The fund is a global stock-based ETF that invests in companies with strong ESG characteristics. The partnership plans to donate a portion of profits to charities in areas such as economic empowerment, financial education and the development of young people in underserved communities. The ETF will be managed by ESG portfolio managers Tony Tursich, James Madden and Beth Williamson.

GIB Asset Management has launched a European Focus Fund as part of the Amundi UCITS Fund Partners ICAV, an Irish-domiciled UCITS collective investment scheme. The Article 8 fund will look to invest in companies that focus on engaging and developing their workforce, as well as their attitude towards customers and wider stakeholders. The fund will be managed by Matthew Kates.