Responsible Funds, Dec. 16: the round-up of ESG funds news

RI’s regular look at responsible funds news

Bridges Ventures has held a £72m (€85.6m) first close of its new sustainable growth fund, Bridges Ventures Fund III. Existing investors backing the new fund include Cooperative Insurance, HSBC Bank, West Midlands Pension Fund and South Yorkshire Pensions Authority.

The Co-operative Bank has launched a new social investment fund. The Global Development Co-operative aims to raise $50m (€38m) from international investors to provide low cost finance to co-operative businesses in the third world for capital and infrastructure projects. 

It already has backing of businesses in the UK, US, China, France and India and is now attempting to attract support from global investors and foundations.

South Africa: a new green exchange traded fund (ETF) has been launched by financial group Nedbank. Its BGreen ETF is based on the Nedbank Green Index, that was launched in July. The index is based on data provided by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and the United Nations’ register of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects in South Africa. Link

Community Capital Management’s US community development fund, the CRA Qualified Investment Fund (CRAIX), has surpassed $1bn in assets. The fund, launched 1999, has over 300 bank shareholders and has invested some $3.6bn in community development initiatives nationwide on behalf of its shareholders.
Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management has announced the launch of Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners, the result of the merger between Brookfield Renewable Power Inc. and the Brookfield Renewable Power Fund. The new entity will be one of the world’s largest publicly traded partnerships focused on renewable power generation. 

Australia’s Colonial First State expects its European infrastructure fund – targeting utilities and renewable assets – to raise €1.5bn the end of next year, according to a Reuters article. It interviewed Danny Latham, the firm’s co-head of European infrastructure.

Private equity firm Aureos Capital has held a $105m final close of its Africa Health Fund. The fund was established in 2009 with the International Finance Corporation, the African Development Bank, Germany’s DEG, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as cornerstone investors. It aims to help poor Africans gain access to affordable, high quality health services while providing investors with good long-term financial returns.Desjardins, the Canadian cooperative financial group, has set up a new microfinance investment fund. The Desjardins Fund for Inclusive Finance will have initial funding of C$5m (€3.7m) and eventual full funding of $10m. It will have a 10-year term with a possible two-year extension. Link

Hamburg-based LUXCARA Advisory GmbH says its new solar fund, FLAVEO, has raised almost €140m from its two seed investors. They are the BVK and WPV pension funds for professional groups and accountants respectively. FLAVEO is expected to close at around €250-280m and close in the first quarter of 2012.

The Australian government has announced that Southern Cross Venture Partners has been appointed fund manager of Australia’s largest renewable energy venture capital fund, the $200m (€153m) Southern Cross Renewable Energy Fund. It said the fund would help renewable energy start-ups by making “critical, early-stage equity investments”. The new fund is part of the government’s $3.2bn Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

TIAACREF, the US financial services organization with $440bn in assets under management, has launched the Global Natural Resources Fund, a mutual fund designed to offer exposure to stocks in the natural resources sector. The fund, run by portfolio manager Navaneel Ray, will invest in natural resources such as energy, basic materials and agriculture products. Link

European merchant banking outfit NextEnergy is raising a socially responsible fund to invest in African green infrastructure, according to Infrastructure Investor. It said NextEnergy and South Africa’s IDC are providing seed capital for a 12-18 month fundraising.

First Green Partners is a new $355m early-stage cleantech investment firm based Minneapolis with backing from private equity giant Warburg Pincus. “Our goal is to find 10 early-stage technology companies to invest in,” co-founder Doug Cameron, the former chief science officer at Khosla Ventures, told

Australian Ethical’s Smaller Companies Trust has won Ethical Investor’s Fund of the Year for the second time at the 11th annual Sustainability Awards in Melbourne. The awards recognise best practice in corporate sustainability by Australian companies.