Responsible funds news, December 19: Monks’ fiduciary award, UK Impact fund first close at £20m

The round-up of responsible investment and funds news.

Bob Monks, the renowned corporate governance advocate and Founder and Director of GMI Ratings has been awarded the Frankel Fiduciary Prize for 2013, named after Tamar Frankel, the Michaels Faculty Research Scholar, at the Boston University School of Law. The Institute for the Fiduciary Standard it is a non-profit organization formed in Virginia to benefit investors and society by advancing fiduciary principles through research, education and advocacy: Link Monks was given the award in Washington at the National Press Club on December 10, at an event with featured speakers including Department of Labor Assistant Secretary Phyllis Borzi, John C. Bogle and Ralph Nader.

Impact Ventures UK (IVUK), the new social impact fund from LGT Venture Philanthropy and Berenberg, has had a first close at £20.8m. Investors include the London Borough of Waltham Forest Pension Fund, Deutsche Bank via the DB Impact Investment Fund and a £10m cornerstone investment from Big Society Capital. Waltham Forest chairman Nick Buckmaster said it was delighted to be an “early mover” in what should become an important investment strategy. He went on: “In total it combines our obligation to secure returns for the pension fund whilst significantly generating a positive social impact in the UK both locally and on a wider scale.”

The new Australian Ethical Fixed Interest Trust is believed to be the first ethically screened and managed fixed interest fund in Australia. Fund firm Australian Ethical says that previously, clients wanting exposure to ethical bonds had to invest in its Balanced Trust offering. The trust will be invested in fixed rate bonds from issuers such as the Commonwealth and State Governments, as well as banks and other corporate issuers that meet the Australian Ethical Charter.

The $7.10bn US Equity Fund from Wespath Investment Management, part of the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church, has gained 30.55% in the year to the end of November, according to its latest monthly report. Wespath, which has around $19bn under management, said the fund could be on track to for its best annual performance since inception in 1998.

Actis, the emerging markets investment firm, has closed its third energy fund, Actis Energy 3, at $1.15bn, 50% up on the $750m target. Investors included public pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and families from the US, Europe and Asia. The new fund will invest in electricity generation and distribution businesses. Brazilian renewable energy company Atlantic Energias Renovaveis and Chilean wind and solar electricity provider Aela Energía were among deals announced this year.

Thunderbolt Partners, a Luxembourg-based private equity firm, has acquired 90% of the shares in German renewable energy fund provider KGAL from its owners, which include Bayerische Landesbank, Commerzbank, Hamburg’s Sparkasse and Sal. Oppenheim. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. The four banks willretain a 10% stake; KGAL CEO Georg Reul has left, succeeded on an interim basis by CFO Kurt Holderer. In related news, KGAL said that in 2013, it had acquired 16 onshore wind parks in Germany and France, bringing the total number of the facilities in its portfolio to 42. Around €820m is invested in these wind parks, which, together, have a capacity of 475MW.

Glennmont Partners, the European clean infrastructure investment firm, has secured a €50m investment in its second fund by the European Investment Bank. The investment is the single largest clean energy equity investment made by EIB this year, it added. Glennmont was founded earlier this year following a spin-off of BNP Paribas Clean Energy Partners.

The Impax Food and Agriculture Fund launched last year has seen its net asset value per share rise 16.5% in the period, compared to 10.0% per cent for the MSCI All Country World Index Agriculture and Food Chain. The fund invests from “dirt to dinner” to give investors exposure across the Food and Agriculture chain.

TriLinc Global Impact Fund, the Los Angeles-based social investment vehicle, has approved $3m in loan commitments to two Latin American companies, a Brazilian sugar producer and a Peruvian diaper maker. TriLinc is a non-traded limited liability company that was founded in 2008 by Gloria Nelund, the former CEO of the US Private Wealth Management Division at Deutsche Bank.

Ireland-based Mainstream Renewable Power is launching a new business venture called Mainstream Capital, targeted at pension funds and insurance companies who want to benefit from government-backed, long-term cash flows by investing directly into the Company’s wind and solar projects. Meanwhile, the Irish government has welcomed news that the country’s ‘green’ asset managers secured more than €3bn in new funds during 2013. It came

Some 34 institutional investors have backed US private equity firm Rockland Capital’s new Rockland Power Partners II energy fund, which has closed at $425m. The fund’s first investment is expected to be Rockland’s acquisition of three natural gas plants in Illinois to be purchased from Ameren. Rockland’s focus also includes renewable power, energy and biofuels projects. Link

Indices

Zurich-based index firm STOXX has introduced the iSTOXX Global ESG Select 100 Index. It screens the components of the STOXX Global ESG Leaders Index for high dividend paying companies which also have low volatility – which it says creates “a hybrid portfolio of ESG, maximum dividend and low volatility strategies”. The new index is designed to act as an underlying to exchange-traded funds and other investable products, such as structured products.