Responsible Funds, January 16: Spinnaker Trust, Hermes’ ESG fund, Helios Investment Partners

The round-up of renewable funds news

Spinnaker Trust, the Maine-based $1bn trust which merged with Robert Monks’ Ram Trust Services in 2012, is expecting “another good year” for its Fossil Fuel Free Portfolio. It says: “A severe drop in oil prices has hurt fossil fuel companies like Exxon Mobil and Chevron, which are excluded from FFF by Spinnaker’s screening strategy.” The portfolio was launched at the end of 2012 at the request of environmentally focused Unity College, which was the first US college to divest from companies with significant carbon reserves. “The investment strategies from Spinnaker Trust have demonstrated that a well-managed, thoughtful approach that provides excellent returns need not involve outdated thinking and propping up industries that stand in opposition to the sustainability of this planet,” said Melik Peter Khoury, Unity’s Executive Vice President and Liaison to its Board of Trustees. Link

Pan-African private equity firm Helios Investment Partners says it has exceeded the $1bn target set for its third Africa-focused fund (Helios Investors III) with commitments from “leading global institutional investors”. It said it is the largest fund dedicated to African private equity. The investor base includes sovereign wealth funds, corporate and public pension funds, endowments and foundations, funds of funds, family offices and development finance institutions. The fund has already bought a stake in ARM Pensions, Nigeria’s largest independent pension fund manager with over $2.2bn under management. Link

The US-Africa Clean Energy Finance (ACEF) initiative, launched by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012 with an initial investment of $20m, has reached 100% commitment of the initial project funds administered. ACEF supports early-stage projects to catalyze private-sector investment in the renewable energy sector in sub-Saharan Africa. Development institution the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) said the funding has the potential to lead to more than 400MW of new renewable power in Africa and could mobilize more than $1.5bn in project capital.

German renewable energy investor CHORUS says its Luxembourg-based fund has acquired its biggest wind park to date, a 21.4MW facility near the Hessian city of Fulda. Financial details were not disclosed. The sellers of the park are its project developers, Luftstrom and Saxovent. CHORUS also said the Luxembourg fund, which is targeted to institutional investors, had hit its target volume of €150m investor capital following a recent closing. When CHORUS launched the fund last summer, it said investments in wind parks would account for 60% of the volume and those in solar parks the remainder. The firm, based near Munich, also said it would pay between €10m and €35m for renewable projects.Hermes Investment Management, the fund manager owned by the BT Pension Scheme, says
Delta Airlines was the best performer for the Hermes Global Equity ESG Fund in 2014. Geir Lode, Head of Hermes Global Equities, said it was one company in its portfolio that “best captured two of the major global equity themes of 2014 – the falling oil price and investors’ support of good corporate governance”. He notes how the company “has a track record of implementing important and progressive social initiatives ahead of its competitors”. In 2011, it became the first US airline to sign a code of conduct for tourism businesses, known as ECPAT International, seeking to end child prostitution, pornography and trafficking. Though it has not achieved best practice in terms of environmental performance, partially due to its old fleet, it is improving, Lode added.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has invested £10m (€13.1m) into Big Issue Invest for a programme to convert empty homes or buildings in the UK capital into affordable housing. Big Issue Invest, the investment arm of homelessness social enterprise the Big Issue, will use the sum to back social enterprises which alongside building affordable housing, provides employment and training in construction for long-term unemployed people, veterans and out-of-work young people in London.

The Candriam Sustainable North America offering from Candriam Investors Group (formerly Dexia Asset Management), the European fund manager owned by New York Life Investment Management, has announced that Rabobank has selected Candriam Sustainable North America to be added to the Dutch bank’s sustainable model portfolio. Link

A sustainable real estate fund co-run by Swiss bank J. Safra Sarasin and Catella Real Estate took in €40m in fresh capital from institutional investors late last year, the pair said. As a result the Sarasin Sustainable Properties – European Cities offering now has a volume of around €200m. Of the €40m in new inflows, one-third came from the fund’s current investors and two-thirds from newcomers. For the fund, Catella acts as the manager, while J. Safra Sarasin is its distributor and also provides the sustainability criteria. Launched at the end of 2011, Sarasin Sustainable Properties aims to return between 4.5 and 5.5% annually over the long term.

The €120m Variopartner SICAV – Tareno Waterfund returned 17.5% in the year to the end of December 2014, according to fund documents, versus the benchmark (MSCI World Index Net TR Euro) return of 19.5%. The fund invests in global businesses of the future that either directly or indirectly offer products and services related to the value chain of water.