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Responsible Funds, August 19: JP Morgan renames behavioral finance fund to include sustainability

The latest responsible funds news

JPMorgan Asset Management is changing the name of its Intrepid Advantage Fund to the Intrepid Sustainable Leaders Fund. It said: “The fund seeks to mainly invest in companies that the adviser considers sustainable leaders. Sustainable leaders are defined by the fund as companies that generally approach environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues in a thoughtful manner while also having attractive value, quality and momentum characteristics. The Fund seeks to invest in those sustainable leaders that, on a combined basis, appear attractive based on all of these characteristics.” The fund has an actively managed strategy that employs behavioral finance principles. As part of the change, which will become effective as November 1, the fund’s benchmark will change from the Russell 3000 Index to the S&P 500 Index. The $19m fund, launched in 2005, is managed by Dennis Ruhl, Chief Investment Officer of the firm’s US Behavioural Finance Equity Group, alongside Jason Alonzo and Garrett Fish; its top holdings are Microsoft, Apple and Northrop Grumman.

An investigation by the New Zealand Herald has found that providers including Westpac, AMP and Aon have been running ‘Kiwisaver’ funds with a combined NZ$$2.3m in companies identified as producing cluster munitions. Kiwisaver is the country’s voluntary long-term savings scheme. The paper quoted a Westpac spokesman as saying stock selection was done by third party managers, adding: “We acknowledge the concern and are reviewing accordingly.” AMP was quoted saying it would “accelerate” plans to remove exposure from cluster munitions. The report said Aon didn’t respond to questions.

Canadian pension fund-owned Cubico Sustainable Investments has teamed up with Plenium Partners to buy a Spanish wind farm from developer Enerfin. The pair have bought the 67MW site for an undisclosed sum, making it the second deal closed by Cubico since its owners, Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan bought out Banco Santander’s one-third stake last month.

US-based investment firm Gratitude Railroad and Blackdirt Capital have launched the Gratitude Farmland Fund targeting $40m in capital to fund regenerative agriculture. The fund will seek to make its first investments in acquiring farms in the southeastern US. Gratitude Railroad is an investment firm focused on investments in for-profit, mission-driven businesses.

John Laing Environmental Assets Group (JLEN), the UK-listed environmental infrastructure fund, says its unaudited Net Asset Value (NAV) as at June 30 was £252.9m – compared to £216.9m at the end of March.The $108m Global Health Investment Fund (GHIF), the joint venture between the Gates Foundation and JP Morgan, has taken an 8.4% stake in an Australian biotech startup that provides cheap tests for HIV, malaria and Ebola. The startup, Atomo, raised AUS$4.5m in total from investors, including a company associated with former Macquarie boss Allan Moss and billionaire property developer Lang Walker.

Landsdowne Partners, one of the world’s largest hedge fund managers with around $19bn of assets, has announced that it is launching a new clean energy fund at the end of 2016. The Landsdowne Clean Energy Fund, will target positions in clean generation equipment, new energy technologies, electricals, renewables operators, electrical infrastructure and sustainable power generation, with a focus on developed markets and scope to extend to Asia. The fund will be managed by Per Lekander, formerly a portfolio manager for the utilities and power sector at Norges Bank, who currently oversees Lansdowne’s $230mn Energy Dynamics product.

The UK Green Investment Bank’s offshore wind fund has made a loss after taxation of £60,000 in the year to March 31 2016, according to a filing with Companies House. The loss is much lower than previous periods: in the 18 months ended March 31 2015, it lost £799,000. The fund had £2.151m of net assets under management, up from £711,000 in the same period last year; and total investor commitments were £818m compared with £463m the previous year. This leap is due to GIB reaching second close on the fund in October, raising £335m from investors including Swedish life insurance and pension firm AMF and the Strathclyde Pension Fund. The bank is seeking to bring to the fund to £1bn.

UK social sector bodies have raised concern that the Big Lottery Fund (BLF), an independent public body funded by the UK National Lottery, will become too aligned with government policy on social investment. The Big Lottery Fund, which makes grants to support UK communities, makes independent funding decisions, but is given a set of directions by government on its strategy. This summer, the government proposed the first new set of directions since 2012. It includes proposals that the fund should support social investment as a means to improve sustainability and impact. Third Sector reports that social sector body the Directory of Social Change rejects this idea, saying social investment is government policy, and is dealt with by Big Society Capital. Charity sector membership body Navca broadly agrees, but says while social investment should be a part of BLF’s funding mix, it should not be a priority.

The Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) has signed a general agreement to establish a $50m credit line to fund emissions reductions projects in The Philippines, with a focus on renewable energy.