Responsible Funds, December 14: Harvard University to create a social choice fund

The round-up of responsible funds news

Harvard University has announced it aims to create a social choice fund, with donations to be invested in one or more external mutual funds that take special account of social responsibility considerations, selected by the Corporation Committee on Shareholder Responsibility (CCSR). The fund will be established as of Harvard’s next fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2013 and will be managed separately from the endowment. “I have heard from many students and alumni who have asked for additional avenues to support both the University and broader social interests,” said President Drew Faust. Operational details will be worked out by the end of the current fiscal year, and the University plans to review and assess the fund’s performance within five years. Announcement

The Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry (ALFI) has published a best practice guide for setting up and servicing Islamic funds. “2012 has been a very active year for the Luxembourg Islamic finance community with several new Sharia-compliant funds launched,” said ALFI Chairman Marc Saluzzi. Luxembourg currently ranks No. 5 worldwide and first in Europe in the number of Sharia-compliant domiciled funds, at 41 funds with €4bn in assets under management.

UK bank Royal Bank of Scotland has launched a £200m (€246.3m) corporate energy efficiency fund. The Carbon Reduction Fund is designed to provide businesses with access to low cost loans to help them undertake energy efficiency improvements. RBS claims to be the largest lender to renewable energy projects in the UK.

The Omidyar Network set up by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar is launching a new fund to support the use of Web and mobile technologies “to foster the global movement for open government, transparency and accountability”. The $45m Making All Voices Count: A Grand Challenge for Development fund is a public-private collaboration with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) and Sweden, through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).Impax Asset Management is set to list a new Food and Agriculture Fund, an open-end fund incorporated in Ireland. According to a key information document for the fund, it aims to invest globally in companies mainly involved in agriculture and food-related activities worldwide. These companies may include crop input suppliers, machinery manufacturers, agricultural producers, timber companies, processors, wholesalers and retailers, as well as packaging, transport, logistics and infrastructure operators.

Laurent Nguyen, head of active quantitative investments and SRI at Swiss-based Pictet Asset Management, is to oversee a new fund at the firm: the €25m Pictet-Quality Global Equities fund. It’s intended to give access to a diversified and defensive global equities portfolio comprised of top quality global firms. Nguyen also runs the Pictet-European Sustainable Equities and Pictet-Ethos (CH)-Swiss Sustainable Equities funds. Link

Campaign group Fair Pensions has released a report ranking ethical fund providers on how responsive and responsible they are. “The ethical investment industry can and should be leading the way in improving corporate behaviour,” it says. “Yet many providers seem to be stuck in the past: applying a traditional screening approach to an outdated set of ethical priorities.” Link

The Pensions Trust, the occupational pension provider for the charity and not-for-profit sector in the UK, is offering an ethical fund to its members. The trust will offer Ethical Target Date Funds, believed to be the first of its kind offered in the UK and will use the FTSE4GoodFunds and UK government gilts to provide the required growth and risk characteristics. Link

EII Global Sustainable Property Fund is a new open-end investment fund incorporated in Germany launched by European Investors, the US-based fund firm. The Fund’s objective is to achieve mid- to long-term capital growth, mostly investing in equities of companies involved in financing of business and residential properties, which strives to meet sustainability requirements.