Responsible Funds, January 24: Achmea backs new Triodos organic food fund

The round-up of responsible funds news

Triodos Investment Management has launched the Triodos Organic Growth Fund to provide equity to leading organic food companies and sustainable consumer businesses across Europe. The fund starts with €25.3m from private and institutional impact investors, including Netherlands-based insurance company Achmea. The aim is to grow the new fund to €150m. Triodos said it is pioneering a new model for impact investing: “mission aligned private equity, with a long-term focus, not driven by exits.” The new fund is a sub-fund of Triodos SICAV II, an unlisted investment fund based in Luxemburg.

The CHF240m (€196m) Ethos Equities Swiss Mid & Small investment fund is now open to all categories of investors. The fund was launched in 2004 by Swiss pension fund-backed governance outfit Ethos and is managed by Vontobel Asset Management. Ethos is responsible for defining the investment universe based on its own ESG ratings. Ethos is also in charge of voting at the general meetings of the investee companies and engaging in a dialogue on specific environmental, social and governance issues. Since inception the fund has achieved a cumulative performance net of fees of 142.7% compared to 128.4% for the benchmark SPI Extra TR. Ethos says: “This good absolute and relative performance demonstrates that taking into account extra-financial criteria in the investment process creates additional value in the long term.”

Next Energy Solar Fund Ltd. says it aims to raise £150m (€181m) to acquire UK operational solar photovoltaic assets and list on the Main Market of the London Stock Exchange. The fund is a newly incorporated Guernsey company and the offer will open next month. The fund is linked to the NEC Group (the Luxembourg-based NextEnergy Capital SARL) founded in 2007 by former Goldman Sachs Energy managing director Michael Bonte-Friedheim. Announcement

Pension funds, both corporate and local government, insurance funds and family offices have committed $100m to the new Resonance British Wind Energy Income Fund, said asset manager Resonance Asset Management LLP. Resonance – founded in 2012 by Nick Wood, the founder and CEO of Man Environmental Capital Opportunities – announced the acquisition of four operating wind farms across the UK by the fund.

The Islamic Bank of Britain plc, the UK-based bank, has launched what’s claimed to be the country’s first Sharia-compliant cash ISA [Individual Savings Account], a retail investment product with favorable tax status. The IBB Notice Cash ISA is expected to offer a profit rate of 1.8%, free of tax. The Birmingham-based bank was founded in 2004 on “faith-based, ethical principles”.Swiss cooperative bank Raiffeisen has teamed up with VERIT Investment Management to launch a sustainable property fund focussed on Switzerland. The fund, called Futura Immo, will invest in Swiss properties that receive high sustainable rankings based on environmental and social criteria. Those rankings will be supplied by Swiss ESG research firm Inrate. Examples of the criteria include the energy and resource efficiency of the properties, their affordability and the extent to which they are located in mixed quarters.

The Sustainability Strategies team at First State Stewart has sold out of US consumer goods giant Johnson & Johnson “having lost conviction in its ability to do everything well”. In a client update First State, part of the Colonial First State Global Asset Management division of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, said: “Given its size we believe it is only a matter of time before its corporate culture and governance starts to come under pressure.” The offering comprises the £272m First State Asia Pacific Sustainability Fund, the First State Global Emerging Markets Sustainability Fund (£277m), the First State Worldwide Sustainability Fund (£105m) and the First State Indian Subcontinent Fund (£206m).

A fund has been set up to help former UK military personnel build businesses when they become civilians, according to reports. The Start-ups for Heroes fund is being offered by Seed Mentors using the tax-efficient Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) regime, Investment Week reported. Investors in a SEIS fund receive 50% income tax relief up to £100,000. The fund – run by Amersham Investment Management Ltd. – is due to close on April 5.

The Capital Good Fund, a Rhode Island, US-based ‘social change organisation’, is looking to raise at least $100,000 by issuing 4,000 ‘Social Innovation Shares’ at $25 a share. In addition to a tax-deduction, shareholders will be entitled to vote to fill one seat of CGF’s Board of Directors. It has already sold 682 shares to 93 early adopters. The fund works to provide equitable financial services to create pathways out of poverty. Home page

Indices

The Global 100 index, the index of the world’s most sustainable corporations from Toronto-based advisory firm Corporate Knights, has outperformed its benchmark (the MSCI All Country World Index) by 3.21% since inception in 2005, Corporate Knights said. Inclusion in the index is determined using 12 indicators, including the amount of revenue companies generate per unit of energy consumption, the ratio of CEO to average worker salary and lost time injury rate. From February 1, it will be calculated by Solactive, the German index provider.