Responsible Funds, April 8: Calvert Investments, Impax AM, Raiffeisen, S&P Dow Jones Indices

The round-up of the latest responsible funds news

US SRI fund firm Calvert Investments is planning to merge three funds into its Calvert Equity Portfolio to boost economies of scale, according to a regulatory filing. A joint special meeting of shareholders of the Calvert Large Cap Core Portfolio, the Calvert Global Value Fund and Calvert Global Equity Income Fund is be held on June 8 at the firm’s Bethesda, Maryland offices. In a letter to the funds’ shareholders, CEO John Streur said the move “offers you the opportunity to pursue your investment goals in a larger fund with a better performance history that may benefit from economies of scale over the long-term”.

Impax Asset Management Group, the AIM quoted investment manager focused on environmental markets, says its assets under management rose 16% in the three months from the start of January to the end of March. It now has £3.56bn (€4.4bn) in AUM, having had £272m of net inflows in the first quarter – 65% of which (i.e. £176.8m, or just under $250m) was from a new segregated mandate from a US institutional investor. Impax declined to disclose the name of the investor.

Austria’s Raiffeisen Capital Management (RCM), which has €30bn under management, says it is sourcing green bond ratings from Oekom Research for a new fund that invests in the segment. In compiling its ratings, Oekom scrutinises both the greenness of the projects financed by the bonds as well as that of the issuing entity. Targeted at institutional investors, RCM’s ‘GreenBonds-Fonds’ invests at least 51% of its assets in renewable energy, energy efficiency, as well as sustainable waste and water management.

Austrian financial group Grawe will merge the fund business of recently acquired ethical bank Schelhammer & Schattera with that of another Grawe unit called Security KAG. Prior to the acquisition, Schelhammer & Schattera’s funds had €512m in assets. This will bring the total managed by Security KAG to more than €4bn. Speaking in Vienna, Grawe CEO Peter Böhler said that owing to the merger, Security KAG was now a major player in Austria’s sustainable investment industry. The new entity would also continue to be advised by an Ethical Council created by Schelhammer & Schattera in 2014, Böhler said.

Columbia University, the Ivy League university in New York, is reportedly getting into the green bond market. Bloomberg reported it has announced it will issue $50m in green bonds as part of a broader $392m fixed income issuance.S&P Dow Jones Indices has announced the S&P Index Carbon Emitter Scorecard, which provides carbon production and efficiency metrics for major indices and styles across global markets. The analysis is based on the S&P Global 1200 which captures approximately 70% of global equity market capitalization and is constructed of seven headline indices. It found that if every constituent of the S&P 500 could reduce their direct emissions to zero, the impact would be roughly equivalent to removing all the emissions produced in the UK, France and Germany combined.

The Church of Sweden is investing €10m in the Green for Growth Fund, Southeast Europe in the form of notes. Anders Thorendal, Chief Investment Officer, Church of Sweden said: “With the investment in the GGF we are clearly enhancing the climate impact profile of our portfolio. In the current interest-rate environment we also financially regard the note structure of the GGF as an attractive alternative to more traditional fixed income investments.”

An investment bank that underwrites charity bonds in the UK has faced regulatory action from the Securities and Exchange Commission for breaching US securities laws. Canaccord Genuity has acted as lead manager for charity bonds in the UK offered via the Retail Charity Bonds platform. But the US regulator said Canaccord has agreed to pay $550,198 to settle charges that it violated US securities regulations. The watchdog said Canaccord had violated Section 5(b) of the Securities Act when it initiated research coverage of an issuer – while at the same time seeking to participate and being invited by the issuer to participate as an underwriter for a planned stock offering. It is the SEC’s first action against a registered broker-dealer for that particular violation.

Opportunity International, the $1bn microfinance organization, has agreed to sell a majority stake of its microfinance institution in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to VisionFund International, World Vision’s microfinance arm and a fellow Christian organisation. Opportunity International will remain a 20% shareholder and retain one board seat. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

A water fund that will buy and lease water rights while protecting culturally significant wetlands in the Southern Murray-Darling Basin has raised $27m, reports the Australian. The Murray-Darling Basin Balanced Water Fund backers include the billionaire Besen Family, the National Australia Bank and the Nature Conservancy. The fund is managed by Kilter Rural, one of Australia’s largest water fund managers.