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Responsible Funds, August 15: New fund set up to combat Ebola virus

The round-up of responsible funds news

A new fund has been created in the US to combat the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. According to Capital for Good, a non-profit organisation that works to alleviate poverty, the Ebola Crisis Fund aims to raise $1m over the next three months for organisations in western Africa that will raise awareness about the deadly virus and treat its victims. The fund has already taken in some money from the Legatum Foundation, a US investment firm. It is managed by Geneva Global, the philanthropic consulting firm.

ResponsAbility Investments, the Zurich-based asset manager, has provided €10m in financing to FONDEP, a microfinance institution (MFI) in Morocco whose mission, according to responsAbility, is to help “women and youth in the country create their own businesses and generate income.” Launched in 1996, FONDEP has become a sizeable bank in Morocco, with a network of 178 branches serving around 130,000 clients. At the end of 2012, its loan portfolio was worth $82m. In related news, responsAbility said that for the month of July, its flagship “Global Microfinance Fund” invested €36m in 22 MFIs and fair trade organisations in 18 countries, including, for the first time, Tonga.

Italy’s OPES Impact Fund has reportedly invested an undisclosed amount in a Delhi-based solar firm known as Boond Engineering and Development. Boond said that with the capital from OPES, it would build a stronger service infrastructure in the form of energy hubs, demonstration units, inventory and trained technicians. According to the portal, the company already has six energy hubs in India, providing 10m people with access to solar power. Boond is the OPES Impact Fund’s second investment in India. Link

Ludgate Environmental Fund Ltd., the £36.9m cleantech investment vehicle, has proposed extending its life by three years to June 30 2018. The board has also proposed a change to make it clear that it is in a managed wind down phase and does not intend to make any new investments. It was originally incorporated in 2007 with an eight-year life (to June 30 2015). There will be an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) on September 1.Wespath Investment Management’s Fixed Income Fund has gained 4.51% in the year-to-date, and has outperformed its benchmark return by 0.49%, according to its latest investment report. Wespath said: “The fund’s best-performing strategy year-to-date is its allocation to bonds from developing countries, which has gained 6.8%.” And its two “core” (i.e. broadly diversified) managers have both outperformed their respective benchmarks by nearly one percentage point. Wespath is a division of the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits, a not-for-profit agency of the United Methodist Church.

Activist investor Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square operation will conduct an initial public offering this year, according to reports. The fund IPO would enable $15bn Pershing Pershing Square Capital Management LP to raise permanent capital, according to Bloomberg, which cited an investor letter. Ackman is known for his investor campaigns such those against Herbalife and Allergan.

A new farmland investment firm has been set up in the Czech Republic, according to a Bloomberg News report. It said former Erste Bank executive Martin Burda helped to start Cesky Fond Pudy – believed to be the first investment company targeting Czech farmland. And it said that Avant Investicni Spolecnost AS, which has CZK10bn (€359m) under management, has set a CZK250m target for its new farmland fund.

German ESG (environmental, social and governance) firm Oekom Research has teamed up with Belgian index provider Finvex to launch a new ethical stock index targeted at German church investors in particular. Finvex Ethical & Efficient Europe consists of 30 stocks seen as best-in-class for ethics in their sectors. “This combination of strict sustainable criteria and risk management is what sets the new index apart,” said Finvex CEO Benedict Peeters. The index’s constituents include British Land and British Telecom, German re-insurers Hannover Re and Munich Re, Switzerland’s Nestlé, Novartis and Roche as well as Statoil of Norway and Reed Elsevier of the Netherlands. French bank Société Générale has created a structured bond based on the index that will be distributed in Germany and Austria.