Responsible Funds, March 16: €6bn UK local authority fund eyes food waste investment

RIs’ regular round-up of responsible funds news

The £5bn (€6bn) Merseyside Pension Fund in Liverpool is to consider an initial £15m investment in a food waste fund. It’s an item on the agenda for consideration by the Wirral Council Pension Committee, which oversees the fund, on March 20. The fund “has identified an investment opportunity in respect of the financing of food waste processing plants,” says Peter Wallach, the Head of the Pension Fund, in a brief agenda item ahead of the meeting.

Banking giant Rabobank and US clean energy service provider SolarCity have announced a $42.5m fund for commercial solar projects. “This new fund is the latest iteration of a Rabobank-SolarCity collaboration that has produced a solar-powered electric vehicle charging corridor to connect Los Angeles and San Francisco, and a series of solar installations at local bank branches in California,” they said.

Future Capital Partners, a UK boutique with £6bn of assets, has launched its third renewable energy ‘enterprise investment scheme’ (EIS) fund, Elara III. It’s targeting a 29.28% annual rate of return with a conservative investment strategy focused on “lower risk opportunities” in renewable energy.

Fund firm Sustainable Technology Investors Ltd. (STIL) has also launched a new EIS fund called the STIL EIS Fund. It seeks to provide exposure to investment opportunities in unlisted sustainable technology and renewable energy companies.

The first nationally focused US impact investment fund has been licenced by the US Small Business Administration. SJF Ventures III – whose lead investor is Citigroup’s Citi Community Capital – will make equity investments in cleantech and technology companies as part of an impact investment initiative to invest up to $1.5bn in high-growth small businesses, the SBA said.

Social investment specialist Bridges Ventures has made an initial £450,000 investment into a car garage venture called Auto22, an initiative of youth charity Catch22; the investment has been made through Bridges Ventures’ Social Entrepreneurs Fund.Helsinki-based fund boutique Northern Star is planning a sustainable global emerging markets fund, called Northern Star GEMS. It will be a Luxembourg-based UCITS IV long-only equity fund based on a universe of 500 stocks. “We are currently in seeding phase, doing pre-marketing and are hoping to launch the fund within the second quarter of 2012,” the firm says. Northern Star recently merged with Emerging Europe specialist Limestone.

Australia’s Hunter Hall Investment Management says its Global Ethical Trust has had a strong start to 2012, up 3% for February “contributing to a recovery of 6.6% since the beginning of the year”. The largest holding is gold bullion at 5.2% of the portfolio.

The €29m LGT Sustainable Impact Global Equity Fund has had a year-to-date return of 12.3%, against a benchmark 6.9%. “Mankind is facing some major social, ecological and economic challenges, such as climate change and scarcity of resources. However, challenges also bring opportunities, which is where our sustainability funds come in,” says new portfolio manager Christian Scherrer.

US private equity firm NewWorld Capital has announced a new fund, NewWorld Environmental Infrastructure, L.P. It will be funded by a commitment from North Sky Capital’s CleanTech Alliance Fund and will provide project equity and asset-backed structured equity to clean infrastructure projects and companies.

Raiffeisen has reported a “very good start” to 2011 for its Raiffeisen-Ethik-Aktien global equities fund, which invests in companies which have an ethical stance and offer attractive price-value discrepancies. The €30.5m fund has returned 10.83% over a three-year view; the largest holdings are Gold Fields, Suncor Energy and Bunge.

The International Finance Corporation, the private sector investment arm of the World Bank, plans a $100m debt fund called Micro Finance Initiative for Asia (MIFA). Initial investors are expected to be the IFC itself and Germany’s KfW development bank and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.