Responsible Funds, July 31: Bluefield becomes latest solar fund to postpone listing

The round-up of the latest responsible funds news

Bluefield European Solar Fund Limited, a new solar PV investment fund from London-based private equity firm Bluefield, has decided to postpone its initial public offering due to “unfavourable market conditions”. James Armstrong, managing partner of the Investment Adviser to the fund said: “We remain confident of our offer, however, now is not the opportune moment.” The fund announced on July 13 that it intended to raise a minimum of €200m via a listing on the London Stock Exchange. Earlier, on July 23, NextEnergy European Solar Utility PLC, another new specialist solar investment company, also announced
it was pulling its IPO “due to market volatility”.

John Laing Environmental Assets Group, the London-listed environmental infrastructure investor, has bought interests in two solar projects for a total £20.37m including working capital. They are the 10.7MW Monksham Solar project near Frome in southern England and the 36% of the Branden Solar parks facility in Cornwall that it didn’t already own.

Matthews Asia, an asset manager specialising in Asian equities, has launched a fund that invests in companies meeting its environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards. The fund is called the ‘Matthews Asia ESG Fund’ and its manager is Vivek Tanneeru. Said Tanneeru: “We look for companies that generate attractive returns over the long term while demonstrating business practices that have a positive societal impact within its industry or sector.” Other ESG criteria include good corporate governance and respect for minority shareholders. Based in San Francisco, Matthews Asia runs $30bn (€27bn) in assets. Link

Sustainable investment trust Menhaden Capital, backed by WHEB co-founder Ben Goldsmith, has today (July 31) listed on both the London Stock Exchange and the Social Stock Exchange. The Trust aims to raise £150m (€215m) to back companies and assets focused on improving energy efficiency. It is chaired by Sir Ian Cheshire, former chief executive of retail group Kingfisher. Menhaden Capital’s shares are dual listed on the LSE and the social impact segment of the ICAP Securities and Derivatives Exchange.

Pre-tax profit at Greencoat UK Wind, the listed wind energy specialist, fell to £15.3m for the six months to the end of June – compared to £18.7m a year earlier. Generation for the portfolio as a whole in period was 408.0GWh, 10% above budget “owing to high wind resource” the firm said. It estimates it has 2% of the £30bn market.The European Investment Bank (EIB) is assessing a €15m investment in Agri-Vie Fund II Ltd. The fund is a specialised, closed-end food and agribusiness private equity fund with an investment focus on Sub-Saharan Africa, including South Africa for up to 25%, with a strategic focus on southern and eastern Africa and a selective presence over time in west and central Africa if justified by opportunity flow. The fund’s anticipated target size is $175m.

US asset management giant BlackRock aims to take in €500m from investors for a new European-focused renewable energy fund, according to a listing with the European Investment Bank (EIB). According to the EIB, the new offering – BlackRock Renewable Income Europe – will target greenfield renewable energy projects in Europe with a focus on solar, onshore and offshore wind. It has a lifespan of 20 years and aims to generate “stable and predictable returns,” the EIB said. The EIB is considering an investment in the fund.

SolarCity Corporation, the Nasdaq-listed solar tech firm, says its wholly-owned subsidiary, SolarCity LMC Series IV, LLC, intends to offer in a private placement $123.5m worth of Solar Asset Backed Notes, Series 2015-1 with an anticipated repayment date of February 21 2022.

UK asset manager Alliance Trust Investments (ATI) says four of its sustainable funds have been judged best in their class in terms of performance by two industry bodies. Citing research from Moneyfacts, ATI said its ‘Sustainable Future UK Ethical’ and ‘Sustainable Future UK Growth’ funds posted returns of 17.9% and 15.7%, respectively, in the past 12 months. This was above the 7.8% average for other sustainable funds. ATI also said UK fund research firm FE Trust recommended its ‘Sustainable Future Absolute Growth’ and ‘Sustainable Future Managed’ funds from a group of 218 funds based on performance.

Foresight Group, the London-based infrastructure investor, has launched a new £20m fund that will target investments in UK energy infrastructure, including “reserve power” and “smart data” equipment. The fund is called Foresight Energy Infrastructure EIS. The launch comes just a week after the Foresight Solar Fund (FSF) said it had acquired majority stakes in three UK solar parks that, together, have 34MW of power capacity. Financial details were not disclosed, but Foresight said it had a total of £150m on hand currently to buy more assets.