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Responsible Funds, Feb. 19: Pioneer, Morgan Stanley, Ecosystem, Statoil, Marguerite Fund, EIB

The round-up of the latest responsible funds news

Pioneer Investments has launched a Luxembourg-based ethical corporate bond vehicle, which it says combines “dark green” screening with a “ best-in- class” SRI approach. Based on an existing €388m Italian strategy managed since 2003, the Ethical Euro Corporate Bond strategy applies strict ethical criteria with the investment universe defined by the MSCI ESG screening. The vehicle will be managed out of Pioneer’s Dublin investment centre by Tanguy Le Saout, Head of European Fixed Income, and Richard Casey, Senior Credit Portfolio Manager. Pioneer is part of UniCredit, the Italian global banking and financial services company. Link

Morgan Stanley Wealth Management’s Investing with Impact Platform has introduced the’ Climate Change and Fossil Fuel Aware Investing Tool Kit’. Its designed as a roadmap for Morgan Stanley Financial Advisors to use with individual and institutional clients to develop a tailored investment approach to incorporate climate change and fossil fuel awareness into their portfolios based on their unique objectives. The Investing with Impact Platform, launched in 2012, now offers more than 130 investment products capable of delivering positive environmental and social impact.

Ecosystem Investment Partners (EIP), the US-based private equity firm, has reportedly raised $303m (more than its initial target of $200m) for its latest environmental offset fund, Ecosystem Investment Partners III (EIP III). The fund is reportedly to make between 10 and 15 investments, each between $10m – $40m, to land-based conservation priority areas.

The University of British Columbia (UBC) has allocated $10m of its main endowment reserves to a new fund, called the Sustainable Future Fund, to invest in low-carbon emission and high ESG equity funds, providing donors more choice when donating to the UBC. The Board set up the fund in response to a proposal by the student and faculty body calling for the university to divest from all fossil fuel holdings within five years.

The Government Pension Fund Global, the Norwegian wealth fund, can now invest in Iranian bonds, according to the government. The fund is “not a foreign policy instrument, and it is only in exceptional cases the Ministry has precluded investment in government bonds,” it said.Statoil, Norway’s state-controlled oil company has launched a new venture capital fund dedicated to investing in renewable energy. The new fund, Statoil Energy Ventures, will invest up to $200m over a period of four to seven years and forms part of its latest strategy New Energy Solutions, which seeks to ‘complement’ Statoil’s oil and gas portfolio with renewable energy and low-carbon solutions.

The European Fund for Energy, Climate Change and Infrastructure (the “Marguerite fund”) says it has renegotiated the terms of a €109m loan it obtained for the acquisition of a solar park in France. In a statement, the fund said: “Marguerite was able to get amended pricing and repayment terms to reflect improved lending market conditions and the excellent track record of the asset.” The deal was arranged by four banks, including BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, ASN Bank and Triodos. Marguerite acquired the solar park in December 2011 when it was still a greenfield site. It was completed in early 2013 and has a capacity of 36MW.

AGL Energy, the Australia-based energy giant, has launched a A$3bn renewables fund, Powering Australian Renewables as part of its “cleaner future” strategy. AGL, which recently suffered a A$640m ‘impairment charge’ following its decision to close its natural gas exploration and production operations, will reportedly provide A$200m initially in equity and seek further investment from two to three major funds. Link

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is assessing an investment in a new Equity fund targeting small infrastructure public-private partnership (PPP) projects in France from Mirova, the responsible investment arm of Natixis. The EIB is considering backing the Mirova BTP Impact Local Fund, which “aims to make a commercial return whilst contributing to the construction and operation of needed urban, transport, telecommunication, utilities and social infrastructure which will benefit local residents, improving their quality of life”.

Municipality Finance (Munifin), the Finnish public sector lender, is reportedly set to issue its inaugural green bond aiming to raise €500 million. The bond, which is expected to have a maturity of between five and 10 years, will be used to finance green projects within Munifin’s green bonds framework, including a planned extension to the Helsinki Metro, Environmental Finance reported.