Responsible Funds, January 19: Putnam rebrands $4.3bn fund as Sustainable Leaders Fund

The latest responsible funds news.

Venerable US fund manager Putnam Investments is set to rebrand two mainstream funds to reflect ESG considerations. The $4.3bn Putnam Multi-Cap Growth Fund will become the Putnam Sustainable Leaders Fund, focused on companies committed to sustainable business practices. The $450m Putnam Multi-Cap Value Fund will become Putnam Sustainable Future Fund. It will focus on companies contributing to sustainable social, environmental, and economic development. Both funds, which are expected to be open to the market by March, will be managed by Katherine Collins, who heads the recently formed Sustainable Investing team at the firm. Putnam, which was founded in 1937, has $171bn in assets under management.

Impax Investment Management, the UK-based sustainable investment fund house, has completed its acquisition of Pax World Management. Pax World, the $4.5bn US fund manager of the Pax World Funds range, was one of the oldest SRI managers in the market. The new combined company will have assets under management of £11.3bn, with offices in the UK, US, and Hong Kong. Impax said in an update to the market on 9 January that its assets under management (AUM) grew by 13% in the three months to December 31, excluding any assets acquired as part of the takeover of Pax.

US SRI firm Calvert Research and Management has launched a new exchange traded fund (ETF) with fellow Eaton Vance subsidiary and ETF provider NextShares. The Calvert Ultra-Short Duration Income NextShares, guided by the Calvert Principles for Responsible Investment, will seeks to “maximize income, consistent with preservation of capital, by investing in short-term bonds and other income-producing securities”.

The €104m Candriam Sustainable Europe, a subfund of the Candriam Sustainable sicav, returned 10.15% in 2017, vs. a 7.28% return for the benchmark, MSCI Europe. It invests in stocks of European companies which are, within their sector, best-in-class (top 50%) in terms of integrating environmental, social and governance concerns into their business models and their stakeholder management. And companies must act in accordance with the UN Global Compact’s ten principles and may not be involved in the arms industry.

The ACATIS Fair Value Aktien Global fund returned 21.34% in 2017. The Liechtenstein-domiciled fund was launched in 2011 and returned -1.13% in 2016.BlueBay’s Global High Yield ESG Bond Fund has attracted more than $115m since it launched last February. The pooled vehicle was seeded with some $40m of capital from an unnamed Norwegian investor. Its exclusions are based in part on recommendations from the Norwegian Council of Ethics, which also guide the holdings of the country’s sovereign wealth fund.

US SRI firm Zevin Asset Management says that its Global Equity ESG long-only strategy – managed by veteran portfolio manager Amber Fairbanks — has posted a cumulative return (gross of fees) of 30.50% in the three years since inception at the end of December 2014. The fund seeks long-term capital appreciation by investing in well-managed companies.

RSF Social Finance has just invested more than $900,000 in four women-led enterprises that are creating opportunities for women and girls around the world: Akola Project, Eu’Genia Shea, Kreyòl Essence and Spotlight: Girls. The investments, in the form of loans and grants, bring the total amount disbursed from RSF’s recently formed Women’s Capital Collaborative to more than $1m.

First State has launched a new sustainable infrastructure fund aimed at UK and European investors, as part of its Dublin-domiciled range. The State Sustainable Listed Infrastructure Fund will invest in utilities, toll roads, passenger and freight rail, ports, airports, energy pipelines and storage facilities, mobile towers, and satellites. It aims to make long-term investments in companies with “sustainable growth and predictable cash flows”.

Germany-based asset manager Luxcara, which holds a renewable energy portfolio nearing €2.3bn, has announced it has bought the El Salobral solar project in southern Spain, due to be completed this summer. It did not disclose the terms of the deal. The plant, located between Córdoba and Málaga, will have a projected capacity of c.45 MWp.

Morphic Asset Management, the Australia-based global equities specialist, has reportedly launched a “long/short ESG global equity strategy” with London-based alternative asset manager, Trium Capital. The Trium Morphic ESG L/S fund, which will target European investors, will hold 20-60 long and short positions, and will short using a selection of ESG and non-ESG signals. Officially launching on 20 February 2018, the new strategy will be listed on Trium’s Ucits platform.