Responsible Funds, January 4: Bumper year for ESG exchange traded funds

The latest responsible funds news

Exchange traded funds and exchange traded products focused on ESG had net inflows of $856m during November – taking the total invested in such assets to $23.22bn, according to research firm ETFGI. It means that, year-to-date, ETFs and ETPs with an ESG focus have risen 33.8%. According to ETFGI, the firm founded by sector pioneer Deborah Fuhr, the top fund by asset growth was the UBS ETF (LU) MSCI World Socially Responsible UCITS ETF (USD) A-dis. EFTGI notes, however, that “confusion persists” about what constitutes an ESG fund, so its classification system attempts to provide greater precision by organising ETFs/ETPs into categories.

Brunel Pension Partnership, the £30bn UK local government pension pool, has joined investment manager Legal & General and the European Investment Bank to commit €229m to a new renewable energy fund being launched by Dublin-based investment manager NTR. The NTR Renewable Energy Income Fund II, which is hoping to raise €500m, will invest in onshore wind and solar projects – including associated energy storage – across European markets.

The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is looking for a service provider for the UK Prosperity Fund Indonesia Renewable Energy Programme according to an announcement on the European tenders portal made on December 21. The £3.5m programme aims to develop the renewable energy sector in remote islands communities in eastern Indonesia.

Boston’s Ujima Project, a community-driven collective, has launched its first fund valued at $5m. The Ujima Fund will invest in “small businesses, real estate and infrastructure projects in Boston’s working-class Black, Indigenous, and other communities of colour”.

Epworth Investment Management, the £1.4bn UK fund manager owned by the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church, has reportedly written to fashion firm Ted Baker over harassment allegations about CEO Ray Kelvin. Media reports said Epworth wrote to the firm calling for an investigation after 300 former and current employees signed an online petition complaining about Kelvin’s behavior.Generation Investment Management, the sustainability boutique chaired by Al Gore, has emerged as a backer of a Swiss genomics start-up, according to the Financial Times. Generation is among investors involved in a $77m capital raising by Sophia Genetics, the paper reported. Part of the agreement was that “embattled” entrepreneur Mike Lynch had agreed to step down from Sophia’s board, the paper quoted Generation’s Lilly Wollman, co-head of growth equity strategy, as saying.

Natixis IM has launched the Mirova International Sustainable Equity Fund (MRVYX), providing investors with exposure to companies positively impacting the Sustainable Development Goals while excluding those with a negative impact. The fund consists of 50 non-US stocks and is managed by Ostrum AM. Link

Bain Capital Double Impact, the impact investing arm of Bain Capital, has acquired HealthDrive, a healthcare provider serving vulnerable populations in assisted living facilities. According to the release, HealthDrive patients are often underserved due to “a lack of providers interested in providing on-site care to elderly, low-income, Medicaid beneficiaries”.

Bank Lviv, a bank in Western Ukraine, has reportedly received a €5m credit line from Dutch ethical bank Triodos. According to a report, Bank Lviv said that this would strengthen “the bank’s position in the credit financing of domestic micro and small businesses and the agrarian sector”.

Vontobel’s Clean Technology fund has sold out shares in Microchip Technology, National Grid and Renewi, while adding Iberdrola, Keysight, Nvidia and Orsted, according to a monthly report from the Swiss house. It increased its positions in SaintGobain and Murata, and lowered exposure to Tetra Tech. It returned 2.9% in the month against a 1.2% return for the benchmark (MSCI World Index TR net EUR). In the year-to-date, it has returned -7.7% vs. a benchmark return of 4.8%.