Responsible Funds, April 26: Storebrand, Hermes, Nordea, Novethic, SSGA, Credit Suisse

The latest responsible funds developments

Norway’s Storebrand has launched its sustainable investment solutions in the Netherlands, comprising Storebrand Global ESG Plus, Storebrand Global Solutions and Storebrand Global Multifactor to eligible investors.

The Hermes Global Emerging Markets Fund was among the top selling offerings from the UK fund manager’s new majority owner Federated Investors, according to the New York-listed firm’s first-quarter earnings report. Federated’s total assets have risen to a record $484.9bn as at the end of March, a 24% increase over the prior year figure.

Marking Earth Day on April 22, Nordea Asset Management announced that its Global Climate and Environment strategy has surpassed €1bn in assets under management. The strategy is a sustainability thematic, global equity solution that aims to focus on “structural winners” in three main areas: resource efficiency, environmental protection and renewable energy.

Dutch investor-backed corporate governance platform Eumedion is to press Royal Dutch Shell to use its influence with the government of Brunei to do what it can to improve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights according to a Financial Times report citing an unnamed source. Shell is co-owner of the country’s biggest oil and the move comes amid an outcry over harsh new laws in the tiny state.

UBS Asset Management has launched the first exchange traded fund to integrate sustainability screening into the S&P 500 Index. Built on the S&P 500 ESG Index, which targets 75% of the traditional S&P 500’s market capitalisation at the industry level, the fund excludes specific non-sustainable sectors, companies going through controversial scandals, and of the remaining, those with low ESG ratings.

State Street Global Advisors (SSGA) has reportedly filed to launch State Street ESG Liquid Reserves Fund, which invest in US dollar denominated securities and seek to maximise income while considering ESG criteria such as impact on climate change and air quality, energy management, human rights, labor practices, and business ethics.Novethic, the French sustainability house, has published its annual analysis of French SRI funds, finding that that the market has grown 11% in 2018 year-on-year. According to the report, less than half of the 488 listed “sustainable” funds are accredited with SRI labels.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has announced a $150m settlement with Morgan Stanley for misleading investors over the risks of mortgage-backed securities, which were sold to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) from 2003 to 2007. “Morgan Stanley’s scheme resulted in millions in losses to CalPERS and CalSTRS,” Becerra said in a statement. The bank, which faces a lobbying resolution filed by Boston Common Asset Management at its AGM on May 23, denies all wrongdoing. Pensions & Investments quoted a company spokesperson as saying that Morgan Stanley now has “no further regulatory enforcement matters” relating to the credit crisis.

Moody’s has assigned an A3 rating to a €600m sustainable bond issuance from the Basque Country in northern Spain, one above the Spanish government’s score of Baa1. Proceeds will fund social and green projects for this year which include affordable housing, employment generation and renewable energy. The debt will mature on April 2029.

Swiss giant Credit Suisse has merged its actively-run green bond fund – the CS Investment Funds 13 – Credit Suisse (Lux) Green Bond Fund – into a passive strategy, according to a Citywire report citing a company spokesperson. The fund was merged into the Credit Suisse Index Fund (Lux) – CSIF (Lux) Bond Green Bond Global Blue earlier this month, the report said, adding that fund manager Dominik Scheck remains with the bank.