Responsible Funds, March 14: Calvert teams up with Osmosis for resource efficiency strategy

The round-up of responsible funds news

Calvert Investments, the US-based sustainability specialist with more than $13bn in assets under management, has announced a new investment strategy: the Calvert-Osmosis MoRE (Model of Resource Efficiency) World Strategy. It’s the result of a relationship with UK-based Osmosis Investment Management and employs a quantitative methodology that is “distinct from and complementary” to Calvert’s other offerings. The investment process analyzes observed amounts of energy consumption, water usage, and waste across a universe of global large cap peer companies. Stocks are then selected using a “best of breed approach” that objectively compares efficient use of resources to revenues. Link

Swiss asset manager responsAbility says its flagship Global Microfinance Fund invested $31m (€22.2m) in 25 microfinance and fair-trade companies during February. This brings the number of companies the fund is invested in to 273 – 235 of which are microfinance institutions and the rest fair trade. All told, the fund has investments in 71 developing countries, with Peru and Cambodia accounting for the biggest volumes (9.8% and 6%, respectively). Global Microfinance’s assets have since risen to $958m, and the fund reported a return of 0.42% for the first two months of 2014. Over the last year, the fund has gained 3.37%. Since inception in 2003 it has returned 45.6%.

Triodos Renewables, the limited company owned by more than 5,000 shareholders, has boosted its renewable portfolio with the acquisition of a 50% stake in a wind farm in Cambridgeshire in eastern England. Boardinghouse Wind Farm is expected to generate 30GWh of electricity per year, the average annual electricity needs of 6,300 homes.

The US$128.1m (€153m) Aberdeen Global – Responsible World Equity Fund returned 13.02% in 2013, down on the 27.37% of its MSCI World benchmark. The fund seeks a long-term total return by investing in equities selected on the basis of fundamental company analysis together with environmental, social and governance criteria. The US$128.4m Aberdeen Global – Ethical World Equity Fund returned 12.71% in 2013 (FTSE World benchmark: 24.67%).
The €37.9m F&C Global Climate Opportunities fund returned 19.45% last year – compared to 23.99% for its peer group median. The fund is managed by Andrew Penman and has returned a cumulative 75.95% over five years.The African Renewable Energy Fund (AREF), a dedicated renewable energy fund focused on Sub-Saharan Africa has closed with US$100m of committed capital to support small- to medium-scale independent power producers. The fund, which will be headquartered in Nairobi, is targeting a final close of US$200m within the next 12 months to be invested in grid-connected development stage renewable energy projects including small hydro, wind, geothermal, solar, biomass and waste gas. The Africa Development Bank is the fund’s lead sponsor.

Wespath Investment Management, the US values-based fund firm with around $19bn under management, says its US Equity Fund gained 4.86% in February and modestly outperformed the Russell 3000 Index. For the year to date it has gained 2.65% and outperformed the Russell 3000 by 1.22%, Wespath said in a client communication. The International Equity Fund advanced 5.04% in February and slightly underperformed its benchmark.

The World Bank’s IFC arm has teamed up with investment bank Goldman Sachs to launch a $600m global facility aimed at increasing access to finance to as many as 100,000 women entrepreneurs in emerging markets. The Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility is the first of its kind to be dedicated exclusively to financing women-owned small and medium businesses in developing countries. IFC will invest an initial $100m and the Goldman Sachs Foundation will provide $32m. IFC will manage the facility, which is expected to mobilize up to an additional $468m from public and private investors.

The Global Challenges Index (GCX), a sustainable equity index created by the Hanover bourse and German ESG firm Oekom, has been reshuffled, with UK media firm British Sky Broadcasting and Spanish gas firm Enagas replacing SolarWorld, the German solar firm, and French food giant Danone as members. BSB had been included both because of its internal climate protection policy and its programming, which seeks to educate viewers about climate change. Enagas qualified GCX due both to specific labour standards within its supply chain and executive pay that contained “sustainable elements,” the index’s operators said. SolarWorld was ejected as it no longer meets a capitalisation threshold. Danone was booted after reports of corruption among its Chinese employees.