Responsible Funds, June 30: Mirova in talks to buy impact investor Althelia Ecosphere

The latest responsible funds news.

Mirova, the responsible investment arm of Natixis Global Asset Management, is in talks to acquire London-based impact investment manager Althelia Ecosphere. Althelia sources and finances sustainable land use, biodiversity, and ecosystem-based climate activities, with an emphasis on blended value investments that deliver the highest caliber social, environmental and economic performance. Mirova says the combined firm would create a European platform dedicated to natural capital investing, operating from London and Paris. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

US mutual fund giant Fidelity has reportedly launched a new global ESG equity fund. The FIRST ESG All Country World fund – a Luxembourg-domiciled SICAV fund, seeded with $80m – aims to achieve long-term capital growth by investing in companies with high ESG ratings. The fund will be co-managed by Matt Jones and Hiten Savani who already run several funds at the firm. RI understands Fidelity has faced pressure from European pension fund clients to show greater interest in ESG.

Candriam, the pan-European asset manager, has joined forces with German index provider, Solactive to launch a new family of ESG indexes defined by Candriam’s SRI screening methodology. The Solactive Candriam Factors Sustainable Index Family, composed of three equity and two fixed-income indexes, will be the basis for five new ETFs issued by Candriam. It is hoped that the indexes will provide investors exposure to companies with sustainable and responsible investing criteria.

KfW, Germany’s state owned development bank, is set to create a new equity finance subsidiary in collaboration with the German Government to invest in technology start-up focused venture capital funds. The planned subsidiary, which is scheduled to launch in 2018, aims to increase its annual investment volume to €200m by the year 2020 and to provide €2bn in the next ten years.

TIAA, the $938bn US pension fund management company, has launched a new online account offering investors personalised portfolios – including a socially responsible investing option. The TIAA Personal Portfolio offers a range of investment options with five different risk levels, ranging from conservative to aggressive.

BNP Paribas Asset Management Australia has reportedly created a new environmental Trust to invest in resource efficiency and environmental market companies globally. It is hoped that the BNP Paribas Environmental Equity Trust, domiciled in Australia and requiring a minimum investment of AUS$25,000, will create significant investment opportunities for Australian and New Zealand investors.

Global NGO The Thinking Ahead Institute – whose 40 members have responsibility for over $13tn in assets – has claimed a potential annual net premium of 1.5% is available to long-horizon investors. The claim is made in its latest report ‘The Search for a Long-term Premium’, which identifies eight practical building blocks of “long-horizon investment value”. The Thinking Ahead Institute grew out of a working group of the same name created by Willis Towers Watson Investments.Finnish pension insurance companies Ilmarinen and Etera are set to merge in January 2018, citing improved solvency and cost-effectiveness as the rationale. They will form a new company managing assets of €44bn on behalf of more than 1m Finns. Illmarinen particularly has a good ESG pedigree: the fund introduced a new sustainability benchmark across its equity portfolio in January, and announced (December 2016) significant sustainability targets relating to its equity portfolio.

IFC, the private sector investment arm of the World Bank Group, has signed an agreement with Eastspring Investments – the Asian asset management arm of Prudential – to raise $500m to help leverage up to $5bn from institutional investors for infrastructure projects in emerging markets. Eastspring is the first Asian investor to participate in the IFC’s innovative program, known as MCPP Infrastructure.

Low carbon index and research firms ET Index Research (ETIR) and Fossil Free Indexes (FFI) have announced that they will collaborate to provide indexes and enhanced analytics for investors concerned about climate risks. The partnership will see FFI’s research –including The Carbon Underground 200TM, a ranking of the top 200 global publicly-traded fossil fuel holders – incorporated into ETIR’s index solutions.

Norway’s Law Commission has submitted its report and proposals for a new central bank Act to the Minister of Finance. The Commission, chaired by Svein Gjedrem, a former Governor of the central bank, was appointed in April 2015 to review the Norges Bank Act due to changes in the role of the country’s central bank, Norges Bank. The Commission was also charged with considering the organisation of both the bank and the Government Pension Fund Global.

The World Bank this week launched the first-ever pandemic bond, raising $322m in two separate three-year issues. It also issued more than $100m of swaps offering pandemic protection. The bonds pay a regular coupon to investors, who will lose some income or capital if a catastrophic infectious disease erupts.

East Capital, which specialises in emerging and frontier markets, is launching a new Sustainable Emerging Markets fund. The Luxembourg-domiciled UCITS fund, which will be benchmarked against the MSCI Emerging Market Index, will invest in companies with strong ESG profiles. The fund, managed by Peter Elam Håkansson, has already received capital provided by Nordic institutional investors.

India’s Rural Electrification Corporation has launched a $450m green bond in London, part a $1bn Medium Term Note programme; it’s the first green bond on the London Stock Exchange’s new International Securities Market (ISM). The bond was 3.9 times oversubscribed on the final order book and secured “strong international investor interest”. The state-owned company, which finances and promotes power sector projects in India, will use the proceeds of the Climate Bonds Initiative certified green bond to finance environmentally friendly projects across India.