Responsible Funds, June 17: RobecoSAM, LuxFLAG, Dimensional, Desjardins, BNP Paribas Investment Partners

The round-up of the latest responsible funds news

“Non-investment in poorly returning mining companies” was among the drivers of a 2.77% return (benchmark: 2.28%) for the €480m RobecoSAM Sustainable European Equities fund in May, according to an update from fund manager Kai Fachinger. He also said: “The portfolio’s outperformance of the benchmark in May as a result of stock selection was most pronounced in the healthcare and materials sectors. In healthcare, the strongest contributors were Bayer and Roche. Benchmark heavyweight Bayer performed very poorly on the proposed – expensive – Monsanto acquisition. The fund is not invested in this name.” The fund “aims at companies with a focus on quality, innovation and sustainability that use competitive advantage to create shareholder value”.

NextEnergy Capital Group, the specialist European solar power investment firm, has announced the successful first close of NextPower II, a private equity fund focused on acquiring operating solar power projects in Italy. The fund has secured an initial commitment of €150m from the Prudential Assurance Company Ltd (the UK subsidiary of Prudential plc.) and intends to raise further capital through new investors in the near future.

LuxFLAG, the Luxembourg fund labelling organisation, has announced that three investment funds have been granted the use of a LuxFLAG Label for the first time. They are: Symbiotics SICAV (Lux) – SEB Microfinance Fund III; Mirova Eurofideme III; and Dasos Timberland Fund II. LuxFLAG renewed the ESG Label for Active Earth Fund – Global Equity Opportunities. All together LuxFLAG now labels 48 funds (28 Microfinance, 10 Environment, 10 ESG funds).

Dimensional Fund Advisors, the Texas-based global asset management firm, has reportedly launched its Global Sustainability Trust in Australia and New Zealand. The trust, which weights stocks based on their sustainability performance, was developed in response to the increasing number of people looking to incorporate ESG issues into their long-term wealth goals, the Sustainability Report said.

Nordea Investment Management, Sweden’s largest financial services firm, has reportedly merged Nordea 1 – Senior Generations Equity ($47m) into the Nordea 1 – Global Ideas Equity fund. The Senior Generations fund, which is managed by Johannes Møller, focuses on firms that are well-positioned to benefit from increasing life expectancy globally. The merger has come about due to its assets falling below workable level. The Nordea Fundamental Equities Team, based in Stockholm and including Mathias Leijon, Johan Swahn and Daniel Ovin, oversees the Global Ideas Equity fund.BNP Paribas Investment Partners, €3bn in assets under management, has expanded its range of socially responsible investment funds with the launch of a new equity strategy, Responsible Dividend, according to reports. The strategy sees ESG filters and financial and non-financial analyses incorporated into its high-dividend strategy for European equities. BNP’s Parvest Sustainable Equity High Dividend Europe fund (€800m) already includes this approach in its investment strategy.

Desjardins, Canada’s leading cooperative financial group, with assets of C$255.1bn, has added three responsible investment funds (two of which are firsts for Canada) to its SocieTerra line: SocieTerra Environmental Bond Fund, the first in Canada to invest in green bonds issued by governments and corporations; SocieTerra Cleantech Fund, the first mutual fund in Canada to offer individual investors the ability to finance energy efficiency technologies and environmental solutions; and the SocieTerra American Equity Fund, which employs ESG criteria to select securities from high-quality U.S. companies.

Separately, Innergex Renewable Energy, the Toronto-listed renewable power producer, has announced the closing of the investment by the C$10.6bn (€7.3bn) Desjardins Group Pension Plan in the wind project portfolio acquired in France on April 15, 2016, and a project under construction to be acquired at a later date. It mains Innergex and Desjardins will hold respectively 69.55% and 30.45% of the limited partnership which holds the projects.

Unilend, the French SME lending platform, has commissioned Trucost to measure the environmental and social footprint of its lending portfolio – the first time this has been done. The environmental data group found that, as of April 29, the carbon footprint of Unilend’s loan book was 178 KgCO2-eq per €1,000 lent, 46% lower than the carbon footprint of France’s main equity index CAC 40.

The Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) has confirmed plans to launch Kenya’s first sustainability index to encourage listed firms to adopt higher standards of ESG related issues. Institutional investors have been pushing for increased transparency for NSE-listed firms, said CEO Geoffrey Odundo, adding that exchanges have become the nexus for interactions within capital markets and Kenya’s is no different. Odundo also revealed that plans were afoot for improving the quality of corporate ESG disclosures and to develop the work done by the exchange’s CSR unit.