Responsible Funds, January 5: Holding company Robeco Groep NV changes name to ORIX Europe

The latest responsible funds news.

Japan’s ORIX Corporation says that Robeco Groep NV (RGNV), its Rotterdam-based asset management holding company, has changed its name into ORIX Corporation Europe NV. It comprises Robeco Institutional Asset Management (RIAM), Boston Partners Global Investors, RobecoSAM and others. The name change will “better reflect” RGNV’s position within the ORIX and will not impact the brands involved. ORIX said: “Positioning ORIX Corporation Europe NV as a strategic business hub in Europe, ORIX group aims to seek new business opportunities.”

A class lawsuit action led by the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), the UK’s fund for academics, against Brazilian state oil company Petrobras has achieved a partial settlement of $2.95bn. It is purported to be the largest US securities class action settlement in a decade. The legal action centred on allegations of bribes and corruption at the South American oil giant. Claims against Petrobras’ auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers Auditores Independentes are still pending.

*Resaver, the European Commission*-supported pension arrangement, which gives academic researchers mobile pension benefits, has issued a tender for “insurance companies and financial institutions” willing to offer personal pension products to individuals at its member organisations — in what it says could be a first step towards a Pan-European Personal Pension Product for researchers. Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision (IORP) providers have until the end of January 2018 to submit their applications. IORP, the European pension fund directive, was revised in 2016 to include environmental, social and governance provisions. Link

Storebrand, Norway’s largest asset manager, has called on investors to move their money “in a more sustainable direction” as it launches a new $1.3bn fossil free bond program. The Storebrand Global Kreditt IG is an actively managed global bond fund, which invests primarily in international corporate bonds issued by financial institutions and industrial companies within the OECD. The move takes $80bn asset manager’s fossil free funds to over $3bn. Jan Erik Saugestad, CEO of Storebrand, said: “The climate crisis is starting to engulf us, foreboded by the California wildfires. Fossil free strategies are a powerful tool, helping us shift billions away from investments without a future, and into attractive investments with a positive climate impact.

Vulcan Capital, the investment arm of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Inc., has chosen US impact investing specialist TriLinc Global Advisors to seed the launch of the TriLinc Global Sustainable Income Fund. The investment forms part of Vulcan Capital’s impact investing strategy. TriLinc funds, which have invested over $700m in private debt globally, provide growth-stage loans and trade finance to established small and medium enterprises in select developing economies where access to affordable capital is limited.

Danish fund manager Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners’ new fund, Copenhagen Infrastructure III, has closed on €2.8bn in its sixth close. It received commitments from institutional investors from Australia, Israel, the Netherlands and Norway, complementing and expanding its primarily Nordic and UK-based investor base. The fund, which has a hard cap of €3.5bn, is targeting a size of €3bn and will be open for investor subscription until March 2018.The Church Pension Fund, the $13bn fund for the US Episcopal Church, has invested $17m in a fund offering loans to “off-grid solar sector” companies – including, microfinance institutions, distribution companies, and manufacturers – based in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia . The $75m Social Investment Managers & Advisors (SIMA) Off-Grid Solar and Financial Access Senior Debt Fund I aims to help one million people access reliable energy while reducing carbon dioxide by four million tonnes.

Hermes Investment Management, the £30bn asset manager owned by the BT Pension Scheme (BTPS), has announced a new impact investment strategy. The Impact Opportunities Strategy, which is aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and aims to increase prosperity in society through impact investing, consists of a “concentrated” global equity portfolio of 25-50 securities, typically held over five to ten years. The strategy launches in January and will be managed by Tim Crockford.

Japan’s Tokio Marine Asset Management is set to launch a new low carbon fund. Launching on ¥2bn (€15m), it will construct a Japanese equity portfolio – holding around 400-500 stocks – with half the carbon intensity relative to that of its benchmark, the Tokyo Stock Exchange Tokyo Price Index. The fund limits its investment universe to Japanese companies who disclose CO2 emissions.

UBS Asset Management has reportedly launched two new sustainability and socially responsible exchange traded funds (ETFs) on the London Stock Exchange. Two versions of the UBS ETF (IE) MSCI ACWI Socially Responsible ETF have been listed, one hedged to sterling and the other hedged to the US dollar. The new offerings will track the MSCI ACWI SRI 5% Issuer Capped index.

The African Development Bank (AFD) has approved an investment of $20m in pan-African clean and sustainability private equity fund, Evolution II Fund, as part of its ‘Light up and Power Africa’ agenda. The fund – managed by Cape Town-based specialist Inspired Evolution – plans to invest an estimated $250m in renewable energy and resource-efficiency assets across sub-Saharan Africa over 10 years.

London-listed investment company the Renewables Infrastructure Group Limited (TRIG) has reportedly acquired a 14.7% (£80m) indirect equity interest in the Sheringham Shoal offshore wind farm located off the coast of Norfolk, UK. This is TRIG’s first investment in an offshore wind project. The investment is in a new joint venture holding company alongside funds managed by Equitix Limited (25.3%), it is reported. Other equity partners in the wind farm include, Macquarie’s Green Investment Group (20%) and Statoil ASA (40%).

The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), the UN’s investment agency for the world’s least developed countries, has announced that it will partner with New York asset manager, 17 Asset Management, to direct capital towards achieving the UN’s 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 17 Asset Management has pledged 10% of its annual profits to the UNCDF.