Responsible Funds, December 5: Dutch pension funds back new ACTIAM microfinance fund

The round-up of responsible funds news

A new microfinance fund has been launched by ACTIAM Impact Investing. ACTIAM Institutional Microfinance Fund III is being backed by six institutional investors. They include Dutch railway industry pension funds, the €13bn fund Spoorweg Pensioenfonds and the €3bn Stichting Pensioenfonds Openbaar Vervoer, as well as €14.5bn Pensioenfonds PGB for the graphic media sector. The fund provides access to credit to low-income people in developing and emerging markets by providing loans to microfinance institutions. The term of the fund is eight years and the target return is around 6%. ACTIAM, the former SNS Asset Management, has €46.8bn under management. Link (Dutch)

Wespath Investment Management, the $21bn funds arm of the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church, is launching a new US and developed markets passive equity fund called the Equity Social Values Plus Fund (ESVPF) as of January 2 – “in response to demand from existing and prospective clients”. Wespath says the ESVPF will apply a passive investment strategy with a custom benchmark composed of constituent companies of the MSCI USA Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Index and the MSCI World ex-USA ESG Index. There will be an emphasis on companies that are highly rated in terms of the environment, diversity, employee relations, human rights, product quality and safety.

Allianz Global Investors (AGI) says AREF, its €150m renewable fund for institutional investors, has acquired an 8MW Italian solar park known as SiSen, for an undisclosed sum, in San Giovanni Rotondo in the southern part of the country. AGI also said the Italian government’s recent decision to cut photovoltaic subsidies retroactively was not a concern to the AREF fund. “Our investment targets are return-strong projects like SiSen which already price in regulatory risks like these. Therefore, we are happy that we closed a further attractive investment in the interest of our shareholders,” said Armin Sandhövel, Chief Investment Officer for infrastructure equity at AGI.

Développement international Desjardins (DID), the microfinance component of Canadian mutual Desjardins, has invested US$1m via a senior loan to Microcredit Organization Arnur Credit LLP, a microfinance institution based in Shymkent, Kazakhstan. This investment was made from the Desjardins Fund for Inclusive Finance, which is managed by DID. Arnur’s main mission is to support development of the agricultural sector and improve living conditions for the rural population in southern Kazakhstan.Net retail sales of ethical funds in the UK were £66m (€83.7m) in October 2014 – the highest since July 2007, according to industry body the Investment Management Association (IMA). It said: “Funds under management reached £9.7bn at the end of October, representing a 1.2% share of industry funds under management.”

The Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), the US-based not-for-profit body, has launched a fund manager training program. It’s aimed at fund managers who invest into Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia with a view to generating social or environmental impact. Pilot courses on capital raising were held earlier this year in India and Kenya with a total of 32 participants from 24 funds. “We are pleased to support the broadening community of fund managers using investment to address important social and environmental issues.” said GIIN Chief Executive Luther Ragin.

Altius Asset Management, the Sydney-based boutique investment firm, has reportedly launched a sustainable bond fund. The Sustainability Report cited Altius’ chief investment officer said Bill Bovingdon as saying the fund is a diversified fixed interest portfolio made up of government, semi-government and corporate bonds.

The Asian Development Bank is backing a new cleantech marketplace in Asia called IPEx Cleantech Asia. The new Singapore-based entity will act as a matchmaker and service provider, assisting both technology companies from around the world with innovative products and services, and prospective buyers and adopters in Asian countries. It is an initiative of the ADB and is set up by clean energy investment specialist ReEx Capital Asia and DNV GL Clean Technology Centre, part of the Norwegian certification body.

The International Finance Facility for Immunisation Co. (IFFIm) has issued its inaugural Sukuk, or Islamic bond, raising $500m for children’s immunisation in the world’s poorest countries through Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. It said: “This landmark transaction is the first socially responsible Sukuk with funds to be utilised for this purpose.” The three-year issue was coordinated by Standard Chartered Bank, working with joint lead managers Barwa Bank, CIMB, National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) and NCB Capital Company (NCB Capital). “IFFIm is dedicated to issuing socially responsible instruments for investors everywhere to make a real difference in saving children’s lives,” said IFFIm Chair René Karsenti. Link