Responsible Funds, Feb. 14: Shareholders vote to wind up BlackRock New Energy Trust

The round-up of responsible funds news

Shareholders in BlackRock New Energy Investment Trust plc, the listed environmental investment vehicle with assets of £108.5m (€132.4m), have voted to wind up the company at a meeting today (February 14). The vote carried by an overwhelming 99.46% in favour and Ernst & Young has been appointed as liquidators. There had been an option for shareholders to roll their investment into BlackRock’s similarly managed New Energy Fund, a Luxembourg-based SICAV with assets of US$1.4bn. But instead shareholders opted to cash out their stakes. The trust, launched in 2000, is managed by Robin Batchelor and Poppy Allonby. A further announcement will be made shortly about the amount payable to shareholders, the trust said.

The Green Century Equity Fund from US sustainability specialist Green Century Capital Management is going completely fossil fuel free. The fund, which already did not invest in coal or major oil companies, will now also screen out gas companies and other companies with significant carbon reserves. The fund will use a customized fossil fuel free version of the MSCI KLD 400 Social Index.

UK fund management firm Newton Investment Management has launched the Newton Growth Fund for Charities, a sub-fund of the new UK umbrella unit trust BNY Mellon Charities Funds. The fund has a policy of making no direct investment in companies that derive more than 10% of turnover from tobacco production and it does not have an income target. Lead portfolio manager is Simon Nichols.

The €67.58m ONE Sustainable Fund-Global Environment has returned 19.36% for the year to the end of January 2014 and 35.49% over a two-year view. The fund – formerly the Living Planet fund tied to environment campaign group WWF, invests in companies that provide services and technologies with positive environmental and social impact. Companies active in the fields of weaponry, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, nuclear, fossil fuel and genetic engineering are excluded. It is managed by Vevey, Switzerland-based CONINCO Explorers in finance SA.

John Laing Environmental Assets Group Ltd. (JLEN) is a new green infrastructure vehicle that plans to list on the London stock exchange and raise a minimum of £160m via an initial public offering. The seed portfolio will comprise environmental infrastructure assets, specifically renewable energy and waste and wastewater PFI assets and a fund managed by Henderson Equity Partners Ltd. It will be advised by John Laing Capital Management. Announcement*Canada’s Responsible Investment Association* (RIA, formerly the Social Investment Organization) has used statistics provided by Fundata to find that Canadian RI mutual funds performed well in the fourth quarter of 2013. For example, in the Global Equity fund class, the RI funds’ average outperformed the industry average on a three month annualized basis as well as on one, three and five year bases. Looking at those funds for which there is data, sixteen out of nineteen of these RI funds outperformed the industry average on a three month annualized basis.

A sustainability fund run by a German family office has seen its firepower pass the €400 million ($544.1 million) mark. Wilhelm von Finck (WvF) Deutsche family office’s ‘Rendite und Nachhaltigkeit’ (net yield and sustainability) fund claims to have made returns of about 4% per year since its launch in September 2009, “with very little volatility”. Fund manager Deutsche Oppenheim Family Office “pursues a stringent quality-based approach to the selection of individual securities and policies of active risk management and balanced diversification of asset classes, regions, branches and individual securities”, and uses sustainability research from consultancy Oekom.

The £38.4m Jupiter Green Investment Trust has announced a total return for the three months ended December 31 2013 of 8.7% – compared to a return of 4.7% for its benchmark, the MSCI World Small Cap Index. During the same period, the FTSE ET100 [Environmental Technologies] Index returned 6.0%. The trust, managed by Charles Thomas at Jupiter Asset Management, remains focused on the process of “mainstreaming” – where environmental products and services become more economically competitive compared to mainstream offerings.


Jay Ralph, CEO of Allianz’s asset management operations, has urged equity index providers to build ESG (environmental, social and governance) criteria into products like the S&P 500. Writing in business daily Handelsblatt, he said that ESG-based indices were unattractive for investors like Allianz, as they did not offer a derivative market that was liquid enough to use as hedge. “What, therefore, could be more obvious than incorporating ESG criteria into the mainstream indices?” Ralph concluded saying Allianz would enter into a dialogue with equity index providers on how to proceed.

Generation Investment Management, the sustainability boutique founded by former US Vice President Al Gore and former Goldman Sachs Asset Management chief David Blood, has disclosed a 7.9% stake in index firm MSCI (up from the 6.41% disclosed last year). And London-based investment firm Independent Franchise Partners has also today (February 14) disclosed a 7.02% stake. This is up from the 5.86% disclosed in January 2013.