Natixis AM nabs Kleinwort Benson’s Peers for new responsible investment arm

Key new appointment for Mirova

Natixis Asset Management has hired Jens Peers, head of environmental portfolio management at Dublin-based Kleinwort Benson Investors (KBI), for its new responsible investment arm Mirova.

Peers will be Chief Investment Officer, Sustainable Equities, at the newly launched business, reporting to Philippe Zaouati, the unit’s head.

Peers oversaw an eight-strong sustainable investment team at KBI covering water, agribusiness, and cleantech.

He was also lead portfolio manager of US fund manager Calvert Investments’ Global Alternative Energy and Global Water funds via a sub-advisory arrangement.

Steve Falci, KBI’s Head of Strategy Development for Sustainable Investment, said the team would now report directly to CIO Noel O’Halloran. “We’re very happy for Jens but he’s left us in good shape,” Falci said. Overall, KBI has around $950m in sustainable assets under management.

Mirova was unveiled in November by Natixis, the Paris-based funds firm with €286.5bn in assets undermanagement as a way to combine all its current responsible investing activities.

It will be the second largest European manager of open-ended SRI funds and social business funds, with €4bn in SRI equity, €7.7bn in advising on environmental, social and governance (ESG) and €20.4bn assets under voting and engagement.

Peers oversaw the £369.5m KBI Water Strategy, which has returned +22.2% over the past year. He was also responsible for the £32.6m KBI Agribusiness Strategy (+21.48%), the £95.6m Alternative Energy Strategy (-4.53%) and the £32.7m KBI Global Environmental Solutions Strategy (+10.96%).

“With the appointment of Jens Peers, Mirova underlines its ambitions in equity-thematic management,” Natixis said.

Kleinwort Benson Investors is the former Dublin arm of KBC Asset Management that’s now part of Brussels-based holding company RHJ International.