Responsible Funds, February 5: BlackRock, Green Investment Bank, Vision Ridge, CalSTRS, CAN

The round-up of the latest responsible funds news

BlackRock has completed an initial close for its latest renewable power fund, Renewable Income Europe, with €275m in commitments from “a range of institutional investors from Europe and Asia”. The new offering has a 20-year buy-and-hold strategy deploying capital in European renewable projects providing long-term inflation-linked income to investors.

The UK Green Investment Bank Offshore Wind Fund and associated parallel funds and funds managed by BlackRock have acquired GLID Wind Farms TopCo Limited (GLID) from Centrica and EIG Global Energy Partners (EIG) in a transaction worth £423m. The Fund will now own a 61% stake in the 194 MW, 54 turbine Lynn and Inner Dowsing offshore wind farms, located off the coast of Lincolnshire. The BlackRock-managed funds will own the remaining 39% of the projects.

Colorado-based private equity firm Vision Ridge Partners has closed a $430m renewable power/sustainability fund. The Sustainable Asset Fund was launched by Vision Ridge in partnership with Capricorn Investment Group and the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment. It aims to deliver “market-leading returns and significant environmental benefits”. Capricorn is the asset manager for former eBay President Jeffrey Skoll.

Dalberg Global Development Advisors has launched what it claims to be the world’s first deal sourcing platform that helps public and private investors connect to blended finance investments in emerging and frontier markets. The platform – Convergence – was conceived under the World Economic Forum and the OECDAC’s ReDesigning Development Finance Initiative, and launched by the Global Development Incubator and Dalberg Global Development Advisors and is now an independent organization headquartered in Toronto. Link

A finance committee for the University of British Columbia (UBC) has rejected calls from students and faculty that its C$1.5bn (€974m) endowment divest from the fossil fuel sector. “As a result of a detailed review and third party analysis, the committee concluded the proposal would not necessarily meet the objectives of addressing climate change or influencing corporate behaviour,” the Vancouver Sun quoted a UBC spokesman as saying. The endowment’s holdings in the fossil fuel sector total C$85m. Instead of divesting from fossil fuels, the finance committee has recommended creating a C$10m low-carbon fund, the Sun said.The Board of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) has voted to divest from US thermal coal companies and to initiate engagement with non-US companies. It estimates the financial impact of the decision at $1.5m; the move follows a Senate bill calling for divestment and is the result of a 10-month research and engagement process.

UK social investor Big Society Capital has invested £15m into the National Homelessness Property Fund that will back residential properties let to homeless people and families. The fund, which has also got £15m in investment from Oxford, Milton Keynes and Bristol councils aims to achieve a total size of £60m-£100m by 2017. Social impact investment company Resonance and homelessness charity St Mungo’s will run the fund.

A new £50m social investment fund has been launched by CAN, the former Community Action Network, the UK charity and social enterprise for office space, skills and social investment. It will complement CAN’s existing social investment offering. Most recently, the CAN Invest team doubled the organisation’s Early Intervention Fund, in partnership with UBS, to a fund of £1m, with match funding from Funding London.

The BBC reports that a new £12m fund to help people who face losing their jobs in oil and gas to gain new skills and find new work is being created by the Scottish government. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Transition Training Fund should help keep expertise in the energy sector, or in related roles in manufacturing. Link

STOXX Ltd., the Zurich-based index provider, has introduced a new family of equity indices which target companies with low emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas. In a statement, STOXX said its ‘Low Carbon Indices’ were based on carbon data drawn from the CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project) and South Pole Group, two specialists in that area. According to STOXX, the indices are for investors looking to reduce their exposure to carbon risk among investee companies and to participate in “low-carbon economic growth.” The index provider says the indices can be used for exchange-traded funds, structured products and benchmarks.