Responsible Funds, Jan 27: Grantham’s GMO, Sustainable Agriculture Fund, Fred Alger

The round-up of the latest responsible funds news

Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co (GMO) – the investment firm co-founded by Jeremy Grantham, creator of environmental research body the Grantham Institute – is to launch a series of climate change strategies. The first, launched in the first quarter of 2017, will be The Climate Change Fund, targeting companies focused on mitigation and adaptation. GMO Chairman, Arjun Divecha, said: “GMO has been doing fundamental research on investment implications and opportunities relating to environmental factors for years, and we are confident that now is the time to partner with our clients and provide investment solutions.”
US fund manager Fred Alger Management has relaunched its environmentally-focused fund with a wider ESG remit. The Alger Green Fund has been relabelled the Alger Responsible Investing Fund, and will now target “companies that conduct their business in a responsible manner reflecting positive ESG characteristics”. “The fund has the flexibility to invest across all US industries, sectors, and market caps, whereas, under its previous mandate, the fund maintained a more singular focus on environmental sustainability,” Alger added. The move includes the addition of Gregory Adams as portfolio manager, alongside existing manager Christopher Walsh.
The Government of Norway announced plans to set up a fund aimed at raising $400 million by 2020 to invest in deforestation-free agriculture businesses during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos. The fund will be formally set up with an initial contribution of $100 million from Norway, and will be incorporated later in 2017 by IDH, an organisation focused on sustainable trade. Other investors of the fund will include consumer goods companies such as Unilever, which has contributed $25 million over a five-year period. Other partners include the Global Environment Facility and the UN Environment Programme.
An international safe abortion fund has reportedly been proposed by Lilianne Ploumen, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, to counteract Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw USAaid support for international family-planning organisations that provide information about abortions. According to Dutch media reports, the amount the Government could commit to the fund has not been disclosed, but if it goes ahead, it is expected to be open to private investment as well as funding from other governments and states.
The Sustainable Agriculture Fund (SAF), an Australian unlisted investment fund managed by AgCAP, reported a half-year net profit of $3.7 million to the period ending 31 December 2016, down from the $4.9 million booked during the same period the previous year. AgCAP said the longer growing season extended the winter crop harvest into January, meaning some of this profit will be recognised in the second half.AgCAP anticipated that SAF’s full-year results will be “as good, if not better” than the previous year, as its one-year total return reached 10.6% after fees for the year ending 31 December 2016.
Mumbai-based impact investor Aavishkaar-Intellecap Group has raised $15m of equity from Triodos Investment Management and $10m from the Shell Foundation, reports Dealstreetasia. Aavishkaar-Intellecap Group, which offers a range of financial products in Africa and Asia to social entrepreneurs, has over $400m in assets under management. It is seeking to increase this to $3.5bn by 2024.
The $45bn Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), set up last year with the goal of “curing all diseases” has reportedly made its first acquisition – Meta, an AI-powered research search engine start-up. CZI did not disclose any of the terms of the acquisition. While CZI – founded by Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan – is a philanthropic vehicle, it is set up with an impact investment structure, giving it the ability to acquire for-profit companies like Meta.
Reuters reports that billionaire investor George Soros will partner with Mastercard on an impact investment venture to help migrants and refugees improve their economic and social status. The partnership, Humanity Ventures, follows a pledge from Soros to allocated $500m to investments that address challenges facing migrants and refugees. In a joint statement, Mastercard and Soros said that despite billions of dollars of humanitarian and development assistance, millions of people remain marginalized – a situation the private sector can help rectify.
Nordic Ecolabelling is seeking views on its draft criteria for the ‘ecolabelling’ of investment funds. It is looking to set up the system to raise consciousness among fund managers and investors, and increase capital to funds that meet its criteria. The consultation on its label will run to February 27 after which the proposal will be considered by the different national Ecolabelling Boards and subsequently the Nordic Ecolabelling Board.
UK-based social investor Big Issue Invest has launched Impact Loans England, a new £5m lending scheme aimed at enabling social enterprises to access loan funding of between £20,000 and £150,000. The programme is funded by Access – The Foundation for Social Investment, with finance being provided by its partners Big Lottery Fund and Big Society Capital. Daniel Wilson-Dodd, Head of Lending at Big Issue Invest said: “A lot of great organisations struggle to access small and medium-sized loans, so we wanted to provide support for those exciting social enterprises and charities.”