Responsible Funds, March 16: Triodos saw assets grow up to 21% for SRI funds in 2017

Round-up of the latest ESG developments

Dutch responsible investment veteran Triodos Investment Management has announced that the assets under management of its funds grew 5% to €3.5bn last year, matching growth in 2016. The majority of its funds – which all adhere to sustainability criteria – experienced inflows. Among the biggest growers were the Triodos Organic Growth Fund, which invests in the organic consumer and sustainable lifestyle sector and increased its AUM by 21% to €49m and the Dutch Triodos Green Fund, which saw growth of 9.9% to €850m. Its Fair Share Fund grew by 7.5% to €353m, while its microfinance offering grew by 3.2% to €368m. Funds which posted outflows include the Triodos Culture Fund, which invests in the development of arts and culture and whose assets decreased by 5.7% to €91m, and the Renewables Europe Fund which saw falls of 5.2% to €70m.
US philanthropic body the Nathan Cummings Foundation (NCF) is to move to 100% mission-aligned investing, putting its nearly $500m endowment to work tackling the climate crisis and growing inequality. NCF President Sharon Alpert said: “Capital markets have to change to drive sustainable and inclusive growth that will create long-term value for people, the planet, and the economy. How we invest our assets and leverage our influence as an investor are powerful tools to make that change to happen.”
Die Sparkasse Bremen has bought notes issued by the Global Climate Partnership Fund for the first time, citing client demand for exposure to sustainable investments. The €11bn German savings bank bought an undisclosed amount of notes, which have capital protection from public bodies such as KfW and the German government. Proceeds are used to support clean energy projects in emerging and developing markets.
Gore Street Capital, a renewable energy and private equity investor, is reportedly planning to list the world’s first energy storage fund. The firm hopes to raise £100m in a London IPO later this month. Gore Street Energy Storage Fund (GSF) reportedly offers a 10-12% annual return before costs, with a 3% dividend yield in the first year, rising to 7% in the second year. Two Japanese firms, NEC Energy Solutions and Nippon Kei, have committed a total of £14m if a minimum of £75m is raised. The closed-ended fund will invest in Lithium-ion batteries which store intermittently produced renewable energy from sources such as solar and wind, releasing it back to the grid during peak hours.Taiwan’s Bureau of Labor Funds (BLF), a state pension fund, will be issuing the first domestic ESG mandate later this year. The fund will track FTSE4Good TIP Taiwan ESG Index, a newly-launched Taiwanese sustainability index, which measures the ESG performance of the 66 constituent companies on the Taiwan Stock Exchange (TWSE). The new strategy is not anticipated to be larger than the $2.4bn global ESG equity mandate issued by the BLF last year.
The Luxembourg Finance Labelling Agency (LuxFLAG), a non-profit body promoting responsible investing in Europe, has announced five more funds to secure its ESG Label for the first time. DPAM L Bonds Emerging Markets Sustainable, DPAM Invest B Equities Europe Sustainable, DPAM L Bonds Government Sustainable, NEF Ethical Balanced Conservative and NEF Ethical Total Return were all awarded the title. The ESG Label require applicant funds to screen their portfolio according to recognised ESG strategies and standards.
US-based TriLinc Global Impact Fund has announced an additional $21m in impact investments to companies in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. The new term loans and trade finance facilities bring the fund’s total financing commitments, as of February 28, to $406m. The investments are aimed at business expansion and socioeconomic development.
Caser Seguros, a member of Spainsif, Spain’s Social Investment Forum, has launched a pension plan managed by Madrid-based boutique Casadevall EAFI, which it states it is “committed to socially responsible investment and gender equality”. Called ‘Smart Bolsa Mundial’, the plan will prioritise the selection of equity funds where the main asset manager is a woman, or where there are high number of female analysts and managers within their teams. A presentation document of the pension plan lists five examples of funds, although public information lists male-only fund managers for three of  them