Responsible Funds, July 19: €150m solar fund lists on London exchange

The round-up of responsible funds news

The Bluefield Solar Income Fund, a new investment fund focusing on large-scale agricultural and industrial solar assets, has listed on the London Stock Exchange. Bluefield said it raised £130m (€151.2m) in its initial public offering and expects to invest the proceeds within 12 months in UK-based assets that are expected to generate stable renewable energy over a 25-year asset life.

Black River Asset Management, the US-based investment firm owned by food processing group Cargill, is reportedly targeting at least $400m for its second agriculture-focused investment fund. Dow Jones, citing unnamed sources, said the Black River Agriculture Fund 2 LP could collect up to $500m and that it has closed on $90.1m – with a $75m commitment from the Teachers’ Retirement System of the State of Illinois.

Connecticut-based private equity firm Aston Capital has launched a fund to finance LED lighting. The LightCap I Fund, targeted at $50m, will finance LED lighting purchases and installations for customers of Nasdaq-listed Revolution Lighting Technologies. Aston said the fund would be funded by itself and other investors: “We look forward to putting our capital to work and partnering with outside investors to fund LED projects that will deliver positive financial and environmental returns.”

German ESG research firm Oekom and the Hanover bourse, which created the German sustainable equity index GCX, have compiled a list of around 300 sustainable corporate bond issuers to be used as a reference for investors or as a basis for new fund products. They said the new Global Challenges Corporates (GCC) constituents aren’t involved in controversial industries like nuclear power, chlorine and defence, nor guilty of environmental damage, corruption and human rights violations. One fund provider that has already drawn on the list is Norddeutsche Landesbank (NordLB), which has launched a sustainable fund that will invest in 40 to 50 of the issuers in the list.The Sustainable Opportunities Strategy run by US SRI firm Trillium Asset Management has been calculated to be 67% less carbon intensive than its benchmark, the S&P 1500 Index. That’s according to a carbon footprint analysis conducted by environmental analysis firm Trucost, which measures the tons of carbon emissions per million dollars of revenue of the companies held.

With its recent acquisition of Credit Suisse’s exchange-traded fund (ETF) business, BlackRock has inherited one ETF that invests in firms doing business with renewable technology, now renamed “iShares Global Alternative Energy UCITS ETF.” Launched in February 2011, the Ireland-domiciled ETF has $21.8m (€16.4m) in assets. Its biggest holdings are US technology firm Applied Materials (12.6%), Spanish energy giant Iberdrola (8.1%), Nextera Energy, a US renewable energy firm (7.5%) and US food processing and commodities trading firm Archer Daniels Midland (7.3%).

Wespath’s Multiple Asset Fund, the balanced fund from the US SRI investor, returned +5.07% net of fees during the six months ended June 30, 2013, against a +4.74% return for its blended benchmark index. In addition, Wespath’s Fixed Income Fund invested $1m in a senior promissory note to Shared Interest, the proceeds of which collateralized loans to small black-owned enterprises in South Africa.

The Old Mutual Ethical Fund had grown to around £77m in assets under management and has returned 35.0% over the last three years and 33.0% in the last year. It was launched in 2005 and Impax Asset Management become sole manager in 2010. The strongest sectors have been energy efficiency and water, said Bruce Jenkyn-Jones, Managing Director of Listed Equities at Impax.