Responsible Funds, June 26: UK, US pension funds back Bridges Ventures’ property fund

The latest responsible funds news

Social investment specialist Bridges Ventures has announced the final close of Bridges Property Alternatives Fund III with equity commitments of £212m (€298.2m), above its original £200m target. It will apply gearing at a project level to provide it with “potential firepower in excess of £500m”. Bridges said there was strong interest from European and US pension funds, including local authority pension funds in Greater Manchester, Merseyside, and South Yorkshire, with the balance from family offices, foundations and insurers (including US-based Prudential Financial). The fund invests in direct property and property-backed businesses, focusing on regeneration areas, buildings showing environmental leadership, and niche sectors being affected by changing demographics and consumer needs.

The European Investment Bank has welcomed
the final approval of the regulation establishing the new European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) by the European Parliament and Council. EFSI will be established within the EIB and managed by the EU Bank. It will be endowed with a €16bn guarantee from the EU budget and €5bn from EIB´s own resources. The EIB has already started pre-financing, or “warehousing”, projects which fit the requirements and should be covered by EFSI once it is up and running.

Canada’s C$17.5bn (€24.6bn) OPSEU Pension Trust (OPTrust) is involved in a global consortium to deliver Australia’s third largest wind farm, valued at $450m. It has partnered with Renewable Energy Systems, GE and ASX-listed Downer for 75 wind turbines to the 240MW Ararat Wind Farm in southwest Victoria. In what will be the third largest wind farm in Australia, the project will be financed by shareholders Partners Group, RES, OPTrust and GE. Stan Kolenc, Managing Director, OPTrust said: “OPTrust has considerable interest and experience in the renewable energy sector, in Australia and abroad. And as a Canadian pension fund, we have dedicated staff in Australia because we believe the country, and region, provides compelling investment opportunities.” Link

DBL Partners, the new ‘double bottom line’ venture capital firm formed this year from JP Morgan spinout DBL Investors and the cleantech practice of Technology Partners, has closed a new impact fund at $400m. The California-based outfit said DBL Partners III aspires to embrace investments with positive social, environmental or regional economic impact without compromising financial returns. The newly formed fund combines partners from DBL Investors and Technology Partners’ energy practice and will focus on investments in sustainable energy, products and services, digital media and imaging, health care, and IT.

Impact investment funds – specifically private equity and venture capital funds – that pursue social impact objectives have recorded financial returns in line with a comparative universe of funds that only pursue financial returns. That’s the finding of what’s claimed to be the first comprehensive analysis of the financial performance of private investment funds that have both social impact and financial objectives. The Cambridge Associates Impact Investing Benchmark is developed and compiled by global investment advisor Cambridge Associates in a partnership with the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN). The new benchmark will provide performance data on a quarterly basis.

Activist specialist Knight Vinke is to launch a new fund later this year, according to a Reuters report citing founder Eric Knight. It said it would open its hedge fund strategy to investors looking for greater liquidity and a smaller minimum investment. He was quoted saying Europe is a “fertile hunting ground” for activist investors seeking corporate change.UBS Global Asset Management has teamed up with Banco do Brasil’s BB Gesto de Recursos DTVM to provide local institutional investors the opportunity to invest in global sustainable equities. BB DTVM will launch a feeder fund giving access to the UBS Global Sustainable Equity portfolio, according to a joint statement. UBS has committed $20m to launch the local fund. BB DTVM President Carlos Takahashi said the move was “in line with our commitment to promote the Principles Responsible Investments to our investor base”.

SUSI Partners, the Zurich-based asset manager, says its Renewable Energy Fund II has paid €50m to acquire a solar park in France and three wind parks in Germany and Portugal. The installations have a combined capacity of 140MW, or enough to supply 70,000 households with power. Said Otto von Troschke, SUSI’s Chief Investment Officer: “With the recent investments, we have successfully realised a strategy that aims for geographic diversification.” SUSI also said it had a pipeline of projects with more than 200MW of renewable capacity and that the fund’s second closing, slated for late July, would bring in €150m in assets.

Sycomore Asset Management, the Paris-based boutique, has hired a director of energy transition and ecology strategy for a planned new equity fund. Jean-Guillaume Peladen joins from French government body ADEME, where he was head of green innovation funding, to head up a new strategy investing in companies contributing to the energy transition.

US asset manager ClearBridge Investments says it has launched an equity fund for retail investors that employs an ESG (environmental, social and governance) strategy. The ClearBridge Sustainability Leaders Fund selects US stocks that are both financially attractive and score well on ESG issues. The fund is co-managed by Mary Jane McQuillen and Derek Deutsch, whom ClearBridge said had 35 years of experience between them. Based in New York, ClearBridge has $117bn (€104bn) under management, $2.8bn of which are in ESG funds. Announcement

The London Stock Exchange will waive admission fees for retail charity bonds that list on its Order book for Retail Bonds (ORB). It follows the launch of a Retail Charity Bond segment in July 2014, an initiative of Allia, the UK charity and social investment specialist, in association with Cannacord Genuity. It helps provide established UK charities with affordable access to the retail bond market. London Stock Exchange has since welcomed two retail charity bonds raising £38m.

Deutsche Bank has made a C$71.6m construction loan to Canadian Solar for two solar power projects in Ontario. The two power plants, both 10 MW each, have been awarded a 20-year power purchase contract under Ontario’s Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) Program. The loan, which has a one-year term after construction is complete, is expected to be repaid with the proceeds of the sales of the respective financed projects. In addition, the projects may be sold to Canadian Solar’s upcoming YieldCo. Link

S&P Dow Jones Indices has launched the S&P Environmental & Socially Responsible Indices. They are designed to offer exposure to securities meeting sustainability investing criteria while maintaining a risk and performance profile similar to their respective underlying indices (the S&P 500 and the S&P Developed BMI Ex-U.S. & Korea LargeMidcap). The indices have been licensed to Goldman Sachs Asset Management (GSAM), who worked with S&P DJI to develop the sustainability criteria.