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Responsible Funds, June 7: Natixis spins off Mirova infrastructure team into new partnership

The latest responsible funds news

France’s Natixis will spin off the core equity infrastructure team of its responsible investment affiliate Mirova and its €2.8bn portfolio into a new firm called Vauban Infrastructure Partners. Mirova will focus on impact investing which will include non-listed infrastructure assets in the renewables and energy transition sectors. Vauban will be led by Gwenola Chambon as CEO and Mounir Corm as Deputy CEO and have a team of 35. It will be structured as a partnership, “emphasising entrepreneurship and long-term alignment with investors”.

Calvert Impact Capital has been appointed to lead the private debt strategy for the Equality Fund, an initiative seeded with C$300m (€199m) from the Canadian government. The Equality Fund will blend mainstream investment and grantmaking, and includes involvement from Oxfam Canada and the Toronto Foundation. The Royal Bank of Canada will serve as a strategic investment partner. Calvert Impact Capital will lead the Equality Fund’s private debt strategy, applying a gender lens to C$75m of private loans.

CANDRIAM launched a carbon neutral Climate Action fund on World Environment Day on Wednesday. The Candriam SRI Equity Climate Action is an impact fund investing globally in firms providing long-term climate change solutions. CANDRIAM provides a zero net carbon emission strategy – which it says is one of the first globally – by offsetting the carbon dioxide emissions of the fund via carbon credits linked to green projects.

Janus Henderson Investors has launched a UCITS version of its UK-domiciled Global Sustainable Equity Fund, which was originally established in 1991. The Luxembourg-domiciled Janus Henderson Horizon Global Sustainable Equity fund is denominated in USD and available to a wider European investor base. The firm’s head of ESG and lead portfolio manager on the UK-domiciled fund, Hamish Chamberlayne, will run the new fund, taking a low carbon investment approach that incorporates ESG factors

Pact, the nonprofit international development organization, has become the first NGO to invest in the LeapFrog Emerging Consumer Fund III – a fund from impact investment-focused private equity firm LeapFrog Investments – making it a limited partner in the fund. Leapfrog’s investments focus on addressing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and promoting access to healthcare and financial services among underserved consumers.

US investment manager Nuveen has listed a new ESG ETF offering exposure to US large caps on the Cboe BZX Exchange. The Nuveen Large-Cap ETF tracks MSCI’s TIAA ESG USA Large Cap Index, which aims to replicate the exposure of large-cap benchmarks through a portfolio adhering to ESG, controversial business involvement and low-carbon screening criteria.

In 2018, Domini Impact Investments excluded the entire fossil fuel sector, refined its industry research process, and launched the Domini Impact Equity Fund, which gives impact investors exposure to innovative and sustainable US equities. More of the US SRI firm’s achievements last year are detailed in its 2018 Impact Report.HSBC Global Asset Management (HSBC GAM) will launch the HSBC Real Economy Green Investment Opportunity GEM Bond Fund (REGIO), a green bond fund aimed at enabling investors to advance the Paris Climate Agreement and SDGs. World Bank Group member and anchor investor IFC will commit $100m to the fund, with HSBC putting in $75m.

Aberdeen Standard Investments and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank have entered a joint venture to invest in Japanese and Asia Pacific real estate markets. According to media reports, the JV will “fully embed ESG factors into the investment process” and aim to support sustainable social development.

Foresight Group has acquired the advisory mandate for the John Laing Environmental Assets Group (JLEN) from John Laing Capital Management. JLEN is a renewables investor with a portfolio of 28 operational assets across the UK and Europe and a gross asset value of £764m. The transaction, which will complete at the end of June, will bring Foresight’s assets under management to £4bn.

Australian superannuation funds are performing poorly when it comes to providing high-quality, ethical and sustainability investment options, according to a survey of advisers launched by the Ethical Advisers Cooperative (EAC).

Legg Mason has launched an ESG fund for Australian investors. The Legg Mason QS Investors Global Responsible Investment Fund aims to outperform the MSCI World ESG Leaders Index. It integrates ESG assessments, and excludes sectors such as tobacco, weapons, fur, genetically modified crops, and oil sands and thermal coal.

BayernInvest and Deutsche Kreditbank (DKB) have reportedly launched three sustainable funds aimed at supporting the Paris Climate Action Plan and the SDGs, focusing on areas including health care, education, sustainable urban planning and poverty reduction. The funds, which will be managed by BayernInvest Kapitalverwaltungsgesellschaft mbH, based in Munich, are based on a stock-factor strategy that incorporates ESG criteria in stock selection.

Lancashire County Council is inviting tenders for a £1.28m investment management contract for its Rosebud Fund., which provides loan and equity funding for growing businesses in the county.

XFactor Ventures, which focuses on seed investments in female-founded companies, has launched its second fund with $8.6m in commitments, nearly tripling the size of its first $3m fund. “Fund 2”, which is led by successful female founders, will invest $150,000 into 53 companies during its lifespan.

WHEB, the UK sustainability specialist, estimates that its strategy in 2018 led to 218,000 tons of CO2 avoided and £31m of healthcare costs saved. The firm’s new impact report Prosperity with Purpose illustrates how the FP WHEB Sustainability Fund generated impact across WHEB’s nine investment themes, which are related to seven of the 17 UN SDGs.