Responsible Funds, February 26: Triodos, 1955 Capital, Electranova, SolarCity, LGT, Newton

The round-up of the latest responsible funds news

Triodos Investment Management, the funds arm of the Dutch sustainable bank, says its total assets under management grew by 19% in 2015 to €3.1bn. The fund with the strongest growth was Triodos Microfinance Fund, up 32% to €305m while the Triodos SRI Funds (Triodos SICAV l), which invest in listed companies, grew by 25% to €1.28bn. Also growing were its Fair Share Fund and Triodos Organic Growth Fund, which increased by 17% and 11% respectively. The Triodos Renewables Europe Fund increased its assets under management by 3% to €64.6m.

A new venture capital firm has been launched to invest in energy, food, agriculture, health, education and sustainable manufacturing. 1955 Capital, founded and managed by Andrew Chung, a former partner at Khosla Ventures, has begun with an initial close on $200m in “anchor commitments”.

Electranova Capital US, an energy cleantech venture capital fund that is managed by Idinvest Partners and sponsored by EDF, has announced an investment in Off Grid Electric (OGE), the African solar leasing company. Idinvest is the European mid-market specialist with more than €6bn under management. OGE’s board includes SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive and Samer Salty, of Zouk Capital; investors include Omidyar Network and Jasmine Social Investments, the New Zealand charitable foundation.

Research from Newton Investment Management and Warwick Business School shows that emerging market portfolios would have benefitted significantly from a fossil fuel exclusion policy – increasing returns by just over 1% a year from 2004-2015. In contrast for developed markets, there was no significant impact of fossil fuel screens on portfolio returns, volatility, and income, they found. The study covered 10,059 stocks in 28 developed and emerging markets and 1,283 bond issues in the US and looked at returns, volatility and income.

The Jackson County Employees’ Retirement System in Michigan is the lead plaintiff in a complaint filed this week in the US District Court in Manhattan against mining giant BHP. It claims BHP inflated the price of its American depositary receipts by ignoring safety risks and overstating its commitment to safety before last November’s fatal mine dam burst in Minas Gerais in Brazil that it co-owned and operated. A BHP statement cited by Reuters said it would not comment on potential or ongoing litigation.

The €173.9m LGT Sustainable Equity Fund Global returned -1.76% in January. That’s compared to a benchmark (MSCI World (EUR) (NR)) return of -5.61% over the same period. The philosophy of the Liechtenstein-based fund is to consider sustainable value creation and “improvement to human well-being”.A Scandinavian institutional investor is tendering a $200m (€181m) emerging market (EM) equity mandate, using the IPE Quest system, according to pensions news site IPE. It said the unnamed insurance company is looking for exposure to large and mid-cap equities across the EM universe. And the UCITS funds offered should comply with Solvency II reporting requirements, and be able to apply an environmental, social and governance (ESG) screening. In addition, the investment universe must exclude weapons including cluster munitions, nuclear weapons and anti-personnel land mines; also excluded would be coal mining companies or utilities drawing revenues from coal.

SolarCity, the Nasdaq-listed solar firm that’s chaired by Elon Musk, has created a new tax equity fund to finance $249m in solar projects. The new vehicle covers the capital cost of solar equipment and installation. SolarCity’s financing partner in the fund—a Fortune 100 company—was not disclosed. The initiative is the fourth solar project fund the two companies have partnered to create. After it is fully allocated, the fund can be doubled in size to $498m.

The €181.2m F&C Responsible Global Equity Fund from BMO Global Asset Management engaged in 17 companies held in the fund in the last quarter, according its new February report. The Luxembourg UCITS fund, managed by Alice Evans and Jamie Jenkins, added that it recorded one “milestone” at an unnamed company on environmental standards during the period, defined as demonstrating the “tangible impact that our engagement services have in changing the way that companies manage corporate environment, social and governance risks”. The fund aims to provide long-term capital growth through investing in an ethically screened universe.

Union Investment, the Frankfurt-based asset manager, has reported a huge increase in its sustainably managed assets for last year. According to Union, the figure totalled €17bn at the end of 2015 – an increase of 70% from the start of year. “The increase is attributable to both current clients wanting their money managed sustainably as well as new business,” the firm said. That new business included a mandate from the UK’s Environment Agency Pension Fund and made up 20% of the €7bn increase. All told, the firm recorded €26.2bn in investors inflows during 2015, bringing the total under management to €261bn. It also posted a record €556m in operating profit.

THEAM, BNP Paribas Investment Partners’ index arm, has won the 2016 Innovation Award in the equity category of the ‘Agefi Grands Prix des ETF’ for its BNP Paribas Easy Low Carbon 100 Europe UCITS ETF. The event was organised by French business and financial periodical Agefi in conjunction with TrackInsight, the ETF analysis platform.