Responsible Funds, July 1: BlackRock launches two new sustainable iShares ETFs

The round-up of the latest responsible funds news

BlackRock has expanded its suite of sustainable exchange traded funds with the introduction of the iShares MSCI EAFE ESG Select ETF (ESGD) and iShares MSCI EM ESG Select ETF (ESGE). The former tracks the MSCI EAFE ESG Select Index (large-and-mid-cap stocks in Europe, Asia and Australia that demonstrate positive ESG characteristics). The latter tracks the MSCI EM ESG Select Index which includes large-and-mid-cap emerging market stocks that demonstrate the same positive ESG characteristics. Deborah Winshel, Global Head of BlackRock Impact, said clients have “repeatedly” asked it for solutions to optimize their portfolios for ESG considerations. “With the launch of ESGD and ESGE, we introduce new tools that bring sustainable investing into the center of portfolio construction.” BlackRock now has seven sustainable ETFs, with $1.2bn in assets.

The McKnight Foundation, the $2.2bn US charity, says it has invested $25m into Stewart Investors’ worldwide sustainability strategy, which manages a portfolio of high quality, publicly traded companies that are involved in sustainable goods and services, responsible finance, and necessary infrastructure. In its latest quarterly update, it added it has also closed a $7.5m investment into New Energy Capital’s Infrastructure Credit Fund, which lends to renewable energy projects.

Paris-based fund firm RGreen Invest has obtained the TEEC label for its second funds InfraGreen II – dedicated to investments in renewable infrastructure- after Novethic’s audit. The ‘Energy and Ecological Transition for the Climate’ label identifies funds financing the green economy via the audit of an independent expert. For Dominique Blanc, director of research at Novethic, RGreen Invest reflects perfectly the aim of the TEEC label and is a dynamic and efficient actor contributing positively to the energy and ecological transition.

UK-based impact investor ClearlySo has raised £1.25m in equity as part of a fundraising drive which has seen social investment bank Big Society Capital reinvest and fund manger Octopus take a 12.3% stake in the business.

US Vice President Joe Biden announced a new impact investment fund to tackle cancer this week as part of a series of new actions to accelerate progress towards ending the disease. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation plans to launch multi-million-dollar impact-investment programme to foster productive teams towards commercialisation of potentially live-saving or paradigm-changing discoveries.

Credit Suisse Private Banking Asia Pacific and Singapore’s UOB Venture Management have reportedly jointly launched an impact investment venture capital fund supporting SMEs in Asia. The fund, dubbed the Credit Suisse UOBVM fund, is only open to Credit Suisse’s high-net worth clients and has made a first investment in a company which makes soy-based nutrition packets in China.Sweden’s Ohman has created what is claims is the first ever carbon neutral products from an asset manager. The firm, which manages some €8 billion of assets, has developed an overlay to three of its existing ESG-screened funds, allowing clients to neutralise their portfolios completely through carbon offsetting. Using data from South Pole, Ohman calculates the carbon footprint of the funds and buys the corresponding number of carbon credits to finance the replacement of fuel-intensive cook stoves in Mali with more efficient ones.

France’s Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Sea has announced the first six funds to receive its new label qualifying French funds helping the country meet its energy transition goals. The Energy and Ecology Transition for the Climate label has been awarded to the funds Sycomore Éco Solutions;
Mirova Eurofideme 3; Mirova Green Bonds Global; Mirova Europe Environmental; Demeter 4 infra and PREDIREC EnR 2030. Link

Allianz Global Investors has reportedly opened subscription for AREF 2, its second fund dedicated to renewable energy investments. SeeNews said institutional investors have already subscribed for €190m of the €300m that is being targeted. The site also reported that the World Bank Group and the International Solar Alliance have agreed to collaborate on increasing the use of solar energy worldwide by mobilising $1trn in investments by 2030.

Chicago-based venture fund Impact Engine has announced the raising of a $10m impact investment fund in early-stage tech companies that are improving education, health, economic empowerment and resource efficiency. Impact Engine will invest between $25,000 and $250,000 in 25 early-stage technology companies.

Danske Invest, the funds unit of Denmark’s Danske Bank, has reportedly launched a Europe-targeted sustainable fixed income fund. Citywire Selector said the European Corporate Sustainable Bond fund, to be managed by Andreas Dankel, will focus on corporate bonds issued by companies with a strong sustainability profile. The UCITS-compliant offering is domiciled in Luxembourg and available in Denmark, Norway Finland, Luxembourg, Germany and Switzerland.

LGBT Capital, the boutique fund firm, is partnering with Newscape Capital to launch what is claimed to be the UK’s first fund screened for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) diversity. Wealth Manager said the LGBT Diversity fund would be a long-only global equity offering run by LGBT Capital co-founder Anders Jacobsen; it is due to launch later this year, with a £50m target.