Responsible Funds, March 13: JP Morgan, GIIN, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, responsAbility

The round-up of the latest responsible funds news

JPMorgan Chase’s Global Health Investment Fund (GHIF) and Australian not-for-profit Medicines Development for Global Health have announced a $10m (€9.3m) programme to tackle river blindness in sub-Saharan Africa. GHIF is structured by JPMorgan, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Lion’s Head Global Partners; and received anchor investments from Grand Challenges Canada, funded by the Canadian government, the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (acting through development bank KfW) and the UK’s Children’s Investment Fund Foundation. Its partners include AXA, German insurer Storebrand and GlaxoSmithKline. Its new fund will see Medicines Development register, and hopefully supply, the drug moxidectin to treat river blindness. There has been no drug registered to fight river blindness since 1987.

The volume of sustainable funds in Germany, Austria and Switzerland totalled €47bn at the end of 2014, up 17.5% from the previous year, according to a new report from Germany’s Sustainable Business Institute (SBI). The report also said the net number of sustainable funds had risen by 10 during 2014 to 393. In terms of performance, SBI said the 205 sustainable stock funds in the three markets returned between +27% and -14%. The performance range of sustainable bond funds was between +15% and -16%, while that of balanced funds was between +13% and -11%.

The Global Impact Investment Network (GIIN) has released an analysis of over 300 impact investment funds globally. ImpactBase Snapshot looks at a range of things including fund activity, track record, social and environmental metrics, target returns and fundraising.

The African Development Bank has approved the establishment of the Bill and Melinda Gates Trust Fund to be hosted by the bank. The fund’s US$2.4m initial contribution will support “forward-thinking” on the issue of concessional finance in development by an African Development Fund (ADF) Policy Lab. It would also support other future Bank activities. The Bank has been involved in multiple interactions with the Gates Foundation. In 2011, the Foundation contributed $12m to the African Water Facility (AWF) to support sanitation services to some of Africa’s urban poor. It also contributed $15m towards implementation of the Action Plan for improved statistics for food security in Africa in 2013. Announcement

French responsible investment firm Mirova has selected Germany’s Oekom Research as its principal supplier of ESG (environmental, social and governance) intelligence on listed companies. According to Mirova, the companies its funds invest in must respect the principles of the UN Global Compact and make “a particular contribution to sustainable development through their activities and products.” Oekom’s ESG research will now be combined with its own. Founded in early 2014 as a division of Natixis Asset Management, Mirova looks after €3.8bn in assets.The Bank of America Merrill Lynch has co-created a £7m (€10m) social impact investment fund in the UK to support art organisations. The fund was developed after UK government body the Cabinet Office identified there was funding demand from arts organisations and convened parties to create a fund. The Arts Impact Fund is financially supported by the Bank of America, the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and UK innovation charity Nesta. It is supported by the Arts Council England, with additional funding from Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Link

Swiss asset manager responsAbility says its Global Microfinance Fund invested $17m (€16m) in 14 microfinance institutions (MFIs) and fair trade companies in 11 countries during February, including an inaugural investment in Rwanda. That brings the number of MFIs the fund is invested in to 264 and the number of fair trade firms to 39. The five countries where the $1.1bn fund has its largest exposure are Peru, India, Cambodia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. In the year to last February, Global Microfinance gained 2.5%.

Schneider Electric of France has launched a €54.5m private equity fund to provide 1m Africans with access to electricity by 2020. Schneider said the Energy Access Ventures Fund would achieve this by “targeting small businesses that specialise in promoting low-carbon and low-cost electricity access solutions in rural areas.” Aster Capital is the manager of the fund and its other backers include UK development finance institution CDC, the European Investment Bank, France’s Proparco, the Opec Fund for International Development and the French Global Environment Facility. Link

SPP, the Swedish insurer that’s owned by Norway-based Storebrand, has reportedly set up a green bond fund. Industry group the Climate Bonds Initiative, citing a Swedish media report, quotes SPP as saying the expected returns of the fund will be equivalent to mainstream bond funds – and that it would allow retail investors to access the green bond market.

Van Lanschot, the oldest independent private bank in the Netherlands, has launched a new wealth planning advisory service, which charts clients’ “personal, business and possibly social goals” with the results translated into a tailored personal wealth plan. It’s called ‘Geef uw vermogen een horizon’ (‘Set the horizon for your wealth’).

Indonesia’s finance ministry has reportedly sold just under IDR22trn (€1.6bn) of its retail sharia bonds, known as Sukuk Retail (SUKRI). It was up from the 2014 retail issuance of IDR19.32trn, a Reuters report citing finance ministry official Robert Pakpahan said. The assets underpinning the bonds were government projects included in the 2015 state budget, the report added.