Responsible Funds, June 19: New name and portfolio managers at Calvert Social Index Fund

The round-up of the latest responsible funds news

The Calvert Social Index Fund has changed its name to the Calvert U.S. Large Cap Core Responsible Index Fund. It comes amid a sweeping series of changes including a reduction in expenses and new portfolio managers. “The Board has also approved modifications to the Fund’s responsible investing index and responsible investing criteria,” according to a filing at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The portfolio managers on the fund are now listed as Laurie Webster, Dale Stout and Lise Bernhard – who take over from Natalie Trunow, Calvert’s Chief Investment Officer-Equities and Matthew Moore, Assistant Portfolio Manager and Head Trader, who had been on the fund since 2012 and 2014 respectively. Calvert has agreed to contractually limit direct net annual fund operating expenses through January 31, 2017, the filing added. The $519m fund was launched in 2000.

Two Canadian investment firms AGF and IA Clarington have restructured some of their funds to make them fossil fuel-free, Advisor.CA reports. AGF has restructured the AGF Global Sustainable Growth Equity fund, underweighting traditional energy stocks. And IA Clarington has recently removed all fossil fuels from its IA Clarington Inhance Global Equity SRI Class.

The Swedish Finance Ministry has announced plans to reduce the number of the country’s AP buffer pension funds from five to three. In a statement, the Ministry said AP2 would absorb AP6 (both are based in Gothenburg). It added that a decision about the Stockholm-based funds, AP1, AP3 and AP4, would be made later. The Ministry also announced the creation of a ‘National Pension Fund Board’ that would oversee the assets of the remaining three funds. In terms of the schemes’ sustainable investment strategy, the Ministry said the requirements would be tightened, yet not at the risk of prudent person investing. Sweden’s five buffer funds have a total of SEK1.16trn (€126bn) in assets between them, with the bulk divided between AP1-AP4. AP6 accounts for just SEK23.6bn.

Aviva Investors of the UK has finished a first closing for a solar fund after taking in £131m in assets from four UK pension schemes. Aviva was assisted in the effort by the Pensions Infrastructure Platform (PIP), an initiative started by the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) trade body to encourage UK schemes to invest in domestic infrastructure. In a statement, PIP and Aviva said the fund aimed to provide “predictable, long-term, inflation-linked cash flows” via investments in small solar installations. The fund aims to deliver annual returns of between 2% and 5% above the retail price index (RPI) for the UK. Said PIP CEO Mike Weston: “Reaching a first close after we announced the launch of the fund in February, reflects the appetite schemes have for infrastructure assets that deliver inflation-linked cash flow returns which are a good match for their pension liabilities.”ResponsAbility investments, the Zurich-based firm that specialises in microfinance, says its assets under management rose 28% last year to reach $2.6bn (€2.3bn), adding that more than 40% of the volume came from institutional investors like pension funds. With the money taken in, responsAbility said it had invested in 535 companies in 93 emerging markets via 12 different vehicles. Among these vehicles is the Swiss firm’s flagship Global Microfinance Fund, which almost 12 years after its launch, has accumulated $1bn in assets. ResponsAbility also invests in agriculture (including firms involved in in fair trade) and renewable energy. Link

Philanthropy organization Global Impact says it has recently built and launched several new funds for a variety of clients. They include Sisters Saving Africa to support the Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya, PartnerSHIP for Impact, the Syria Refugee Fund and the Foundation for Total Recovery Fund.

Dublin-based renewables developer NTR has posted a profit of €35.7m for the financial year 2015, which is an improvement of €4.4 million (13.9%) on the previous year. It also said it would be anchoring a new €150m vehicle with €50m as it targets 170MW of onshore wind.

Brazilian food giant BRF S.A. has issued what’s being called South America’s first green bond, raising €500m from investors in the process. The bond has a maturity of seven years and, based on its triple ‘BBB’ credit rating, pays 2.75% in annual interest. Bookrunners for the bond, which was more than four times oversubscribed, included Deutsche Bank, Bank of America, Citigroup, BNP Paribas and Morgan Stanley. BRF says it will use the proceeds for a range of projects, including renewables, energy efficiency and sustainable forestry. It has hired ESG firm Sustainalytics to assure the bond’s green credentials. However, the NGO Climate Bonds Initiative is not entirely convinced by BRF’s bond. “It looks like BRF missed a chance to show off how green this bond is actually going to be. Some of the projects, in particular raw material use reduction and sustainable forestry look dubious,” writes Sean Kidney, CEO of the NGO on its website.

Symrise, a German perfume company, is the latest addition to the Hanover stock exchange’s new ‘German Gender Index.’ It replaces the German unit of UK media group Sky Plc, whose minority shareholders are to be bought out by the UK group. Hanover’s bourse said Symrise qualified for inclusion in the German Gender Index on the grounds that 25% of its board directors are female. Launched late last April, the 50-member stock index also includes BASF, Deutsche Lufthansa, Daimler, BMW and Allianz.