Responsible Funds, February 13: ASB sustainability fund, Greencoat Wind, Impax AM

The round-up of responsible funds news

New Zealand bank ASB’s First Choice Global Sustainability Fund has reportedly become the latest ethical/sustainable ‘Kiwisaver’ fund in the country to close. Radio New Zealand quoted ASB’s head of wealth products Roger Clayton as saying the fund – managed by Generation Investment Management and launched in 2008 – attracted only 500 members at its peak and that the research required was seen as too expensive. According to fund documents, the NZ$2.6m (€1.7m) offering had just 221 members at the end of December, though it had a 14.38% return, after deductions, in the year. Radio NZ noted that there are just five ethical/sustainable Kiwisaver funds left, accounting for just NZ$40m of the total NZ$23bn invested in the over 200 long-term savings schemes.

Greencoat UK Wind Plc, the London-listed wind energy investment vehicle, has disclosed that Newton Investment Management Ltd. now has an 8% stake. Fellow UK fund firm Baillie Gifford has 5.98%. The disclosures follow the announcement that cornerstone investor the UK government had sold its 10.8% stake on February 5. The shares had been “placed with a broad range of investors” by RBC Capital Markets, Barclays and Winterflood Securities, Greencoat said.

The UK government has announced a £50m (€67.5m) investment by the Green Investment Bank (GIB) in a new fund targeting smaller-scale, innovative, recycling and waste projects across the country. The new fund – Recycling and Waste LP – will be managed by Foresight Group, the infrastructure and private equity firm, which will raise at least a further £50m from private sector co-investors. “The fund already has an extensive pipeline in place,” the government said.

Philanthropy group Global Impact has announced it has been named a charity of choice for Caritas Partners, the New York-based securities trading firm that was founded in 2012 as a “capitalist enterprise on a mission” by a group of senior broking industry executives. The two will work together to support people in need around the world through charitable High Impact Funds. Caritas donates a predetermined percentage of gross commissions, not just profits, to charity based on client preferences. Announcement

The Ethical Global Value fund from Sparinvest returned 6.98% in January (compared to a 5.29% return of the MSCI World benchmark). It aims to provide a positive return over the long term by investing in equity securities and, to a limited extent, convertible securities and warrants. The Luxembourg-domiciled fund applies an ethical screening that identifies the companies that do not fulfill an ethical framework, and they are excluded.Impax Asset Management, the UK environmentally focused fund manager, has appointed consulting firm EY [Ernst & Young] to provide “strategic advice and support” to its sustainable property business. It follows the recruitment of Esme Lowe and Tim Mockett from Climate Change Capital Limited last year and the transfer of the Climate Change Property Fund – which is now known as the Impax Climate Property Fund.

TriLinc Global Impact Fund has approved a total of $1.9m in trade finance facilities to companies in South Africa and Argentina, according to Institutional Asset Manager. It brings total commitments by the fund, an impact investing vehicle specializing in growth-stage loans to SMEs in developing economies, to $61.7m for business expansion and socioeconomic development through its holdings in Africa and Latin America.

Timbervest, the Atlanta-based forestry investment firm, has sold nearly 20,000 acres of timberland assets in Georgia and Pennsylvania from its Timbervest Partners I (TVP I) investment fund for a combined $33.9m. It said: “Following the sales, the $231 million, vintage 2005 TVP I fund continues to own and manage high quality timberlands located throughout the country with an investor base consisting of both institutional and high-net-worth investors.”

Australian boutique structured product provider, Instreet Investment, has acquired the Emerald Club and its flagship product, The Emerald Wrap, which offers an ethical platform for Responsible investing (RI). Instreet managing director George Lucas says: “Emerald Wrap’s fundamental mission of aligning money for growth with ethical investing will not change. Although the wrap, which was established In August 2011, only boasts A$30m (€20.4m), we are confident that this figure can grow substantially.” Link

US mutual funds that invest in companies seen as socially responsible are making better returns, according to a recent analysis by Reuters’ columnist Robyn Post. Investors have been “pouring money” into SRI fund like the Vanguard FTSE Social Index Fund Investor Shares and iShares MSCI KLD 400 Social ETF, the report said.

Index and ESG firm MSCI has revamped its Global Islamic and Global Islamic Small Cap Indexes as part of a broader quarterly review. Twenty-seven securities will be added to and 18 securities will be deleted from the MSCI ACWI Islamic Index. The three largest additions to the MSCI ACWI Islamic Index will be Actavis (USA), Nippon Steel & Sumitomo (Japan) and Sun Pharmaceutical (India). There will be one addition to and no deletions from the MSCI Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Countries ex Saudi Arabia IMI Islamic Index. The changes come in on February 27.