Responsible Funds, April 12: NZ Super exits gun companies in wake of Christchurch massacre

The latest responsible funds news

The NZ$41bn (€24.5bn) New Zealand Superannuation Fund has excluded companies involved in the manufacture of civilian automatic and semi-automatic firearms following the new Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines and Parts) Amendment Bill on April 10. It said it worked with external service provider MSCI ESG Research to identify companies captured by the new exclusion category and it will divest NZ$19m of investments in American Outdoor Brands, Daicel, NOF, OLIN, Richemont, Sturm, Ruger and Vista Outdoor. It comes in the wake of the Christchurch massacre which has also led the fund to focus on social media companies’ role in live-streaming the event.

S&P Dow Jones Indices has released an ESG version of its iconic S&P 500 index to target the “core of an investor’s portfolio”, unlike other ESG indices which are “more thematic or narrower in their focus”. The new S&P 500 ESG offering will closely replicate the profile of its precursor with a tracking error of less than 1% and targets 75% of the S&P 500’s market cap in each industry. Constituents are based on composite ESG scores calculated by ESG house RobecoSAM, excluding 30% of existing S&P 500 members. UBS Asset Management has entered into a licensing agreement with S&P Dow Jones to launch the first ETF on the back of this index.

TRACKINSIGHT, an ETF analytics platform, has announced the launch of its ESG Analytics module developed with partners CONSER, the Swiss sustainability firm. The platform uses a proprietary methodology to score ETFs based on their holdings, summarising ESG data as well as controversies and breaches of international norms. Scoring will be available for more than 3,000 ETFs listed in Europe, North America and Asia, and freely accessible.

DWS, the German fund manager, has reportedly launched an ESG-focused fund investing at least 70% of assets in German and internationally-issued floating rate bonds. The strategy, launched last week, will incorporate engagement with issuers, negative screening and best-in-class investing.

Bloomberg and MSCI have expanded their Bloomberg Barclays MSCI ESG Fixed Income Index suite, launching a series of indices for the Canada market. BlackRock is one of the first managers to license the suite for a range of Canadian ESG exchange traded funds, available to investors as at end-March.Brunel Pension Partnership (BPP), one of the eight UK town hall pension pools, has announced a €50m commitment to Mirova’s Core Infrastructure II (CIF2) fund on behalf of 6 of its member funds. The £30bn (€34.73) BPP, which groups together 10 local authority pensions from England’s South West, has a 5% allocation – approximately £1.5bn (€1.74bn) for infrastructure.

AXA Investment Managers has launched an SDG-aligned impact fund which seeks to capitalise on the low carbon energy transition. The AXA World Funds Framlington Clean Economy fund will invest in companies associated with four sub themes: sustainable transport, smart energy, responsible nutrition and recycling and waste reduction.

Denmark’s Saxo Bank and Brown Advisory, a Baltimore-based investor with $71bn in assets under management, have partnered to deliver a digital investment portfolio for Saxo clients. Investors will be the first outside the US to access Brown Advisory’s Ethical Selection portfolio of 30-40 listed US companies. Aside from the use of negative screening, stocks are also chosen on their use of sustainability factors to drive shareholder value.

Impax Asset Management, the specialist ESG investor, has announced a 15% increase in assets to £13.3bn (€15.4bn) over the past quarter according to a second quarter update. The biggest driver of growth was thematic equity funds which brought in £563m (€651m) of net inflows and £1bn (€1.16bn) from positive market movements.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB), has launched the “ASEAN Catalytic Green Finance Facility”, which will allocate more than $1bn of green infrastructure investments across the region.

UNICEF and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) will co-develop a fund to “mobilise Islamic giving, including philanthropic and Zakat [alms giving] resources” towards the well-being of children in IsDB member countries. The Global Muslim Philanthropy Fund for Children was discussed on the margins of IsDB’s 44th Annual Meeting of Board of Governors and is anticipated to launch during the UN General Assembly in September.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has priced a NOK500m (€52m) 3-year fixed social bond, the first to be issued in the Norwegian market and AfDB’s first transaction denominated in the local currency. Eligible projects are selected on their ability to reduce poverty and spur job creation, leading to inclusive growth across the continent.