Responsible Funds, June 12: AP2, Greater Manchester PF among backers of $667m timber fund

The round-up of the latest responsible funds news.

AP2, the Greater Manchester Pension Fund and Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec are among a number of institutional investors who have backed TIAACREF Asset Management’s new $667m timber investment firm Global Timber Resources LLC. The new firm will invest in timberland assets across North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia and is focused on sustainable plantation forestry assets. GreenWood Resources, a subsidiary of TIAACREF, will manage the Global Timber Resources’ portfolio of timber assets. Announcement

Falkirk Local Government Pension Scheme Fund in Scotland has invested £30m in Hearthstone Investments’ social housing fund building affordable homes. The ‘Housing Fund for Scotland’ has been seeded with £6m from the Scottish government, who says it is keen for pension funds to explore this type of investment. Hearthstone predicts its ‘Housing Fund for Scotland’ will achieve £150m total investment from a number of pension funds in Scotland.

Alternative asset manager Aquila Capital has said its new Aquila Renewables Fund III, which which invests in a diversified portfolio of photovoltaic and wind power plants in Europe, secured a significant amount at first close from an unnamed “large institutional investor”. It announced that a high double-digit million amount of the capital has already been allocated to operating assets. Aquila said: “The fund has an existing pipeline of assets in which it can invest and has already secured a number of operating photovoltaic and wind power plants with a total equity volume of close to €175m.”

BNP Paribas Investment Partners has announced three SRI strategies to its Luxembourg-domiciled Parvest SICAV funds. They are ‘human development’, water and food. The first will be managed by Giordano Beani while Impax Asset Management will run the latter two.

LGT, the Liechtenstein private banking and asset management group, says that since late 2014, it has conducted a combined financial and ESG analysis for all equity and bond investment funds. “This allows all our clients to benefit from the ESG expertise that we have developed for our LGT Sustainable Investing Funds,” it says in its new sustainability report. It exercises its voting rights based on internal regulations as well as Swiss and international corporate governance rules such as the PRI principles – “which we have implemented in coordination with Institutional Shareholder Services”. LGT says it wants to “incorporate sustainability criteria into our investment activities in all asset classes” by 2020.

SuMi TRUST, the international arm of Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Group, has launched a concentrated Japanese equity fund, according to reports. Citywire Global said the Japan Quality Growth fund is a sub-fund of the SuMi Trust Investment Funds umbrella domiciled in Ireland. It will focus on companies on the new governance-slanted JPX-Nikkei 400 index and be managed by Tatsuya Suzuki.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is considering a €50m investment in Impax New Energy Investors III, a fund aiming to invest mainly in the construction of on-shore wind, solar and hydro projects, primarily in selected European countries.Mirova, the responsible investment arm of French asset manager Natixis, says it is launching Mirova Green Bond – Global, one of the first funds in the world for green bonds. It will be managed by Christopher Wigley, backed by Mirova’s 11-strong responsible investment research team. Wigley said: “Due to a rigorous analysis of the financial and extra-financial aspects of each security, Mirova Green Bond-Global seeks to offer investors a diversified portfolio with an attractive yield.”

A new solar ‘YieldCo’ has started an initial public offering. 8point3 Energy Partners LP has been formed by tow Nasdaq-listed solar firms, First Solar and SunPower. The limited partnership will own and operate a portfolio of selected solar energy generation assets and the offering is for 20,000,000 shares, to be listed on the NASDAQ Global Market under the symbol ‘CAFD’. Goldman Sachs and Citigroup are acting as lead book running managers for the IPO. Deutsche Bank J.P. Morgan Securities and Credit Agricole Securities are joint book-runners. Announcement

BlackRock Renewable Income UK Fund has agreed to buy a UK solar project from Solar Power Inc. (SPI), the Shanghai-based solar photovoltaic developer for an undisclosed sum. The fund, managed by BlackRock’s Infrastructure Investment Group, is buying the 9.5MW Grange Farm facility in Lincolnshire, eastern England.

Citi Community Capital, the University of Michigan endowment and Rockefeller Brothers Fund are among the investors who have backed US-based Turner Capital Impact’s new $1bn fund to address the growing shortage of affordable workforce rental housing in the United States. The Turner Multifamily Impact Fund will focus on workforce housing for professionals such as teachers, police officers and health workers. Bobby Turner, principal and CEO of Turner Impact Capital, said: “We are encouraged by the increased appetite for social impact investments from institutional investors who have recognized that achieving strong risk-adjusted financial returns and making societal change are not mutually exclusive.

C-Quadrat, a Vienna-based asset management boutique, says that having adopted a sustainable investment strategy for some of its funds in 2006, it now manages €365m in this way. This represents 27% of the firm’s total assets under management. C-Quadrat said three of its funds – one for bonds, one for equities and one absolute return product – now look at ESG criteria when selecting investments. “Beyond the good feeling that sustainable investments gives the investor, more and more studies are showing that there is a positive correlation between such investments and risk-adjusted performance,” it said.

New data published this month reveals the financial performance of more than 400 closed investment deals in the UK social investment market. The open dataset has been developed by EngagedX, a division of UK social enterprise Engaged Investment, and has been funded by the Social Investment Research Council and the Royal Bank of Scotland. It uncovers the financial characteristics of deals, including their risk and return.
Link to data.