Responsible Funds, March 23: Nordea’s sustainability arm pauses investment into Facebook

Round-up of the latest ESG developments

The sustainable fund division of Nordea will not be adding to its current Facebook holdings, it has been reported, for ESG reasons. The asset manager is not, however, looking to divest its current holdings in the social media company. The news comes in the wake of recent allegations that the user information of 50m Facebook users had been improperly accessed by Cambridge Analytica, a UK-based political firm hired by Donald Trump for the 2016 election campaign. In a blog today, Sasja Beslik, Nordea’s Head of Sustainable Finance, said: “Facebook belongs to the bottom quartile when it comes to privacy and data security among its peers. As such, Facebook has significant exposure to reputational, litigation and regulatory risks. The number of controversies relating to data privacy are stocking up and occurring more frequently than ever before.”
Mirova’s Mirova-Eurofideme 3 fund has made a new acquisition, buying a 25MW solar project in Portugal. The France-based fund purchased the ‘ready-to-build’ asset from local developer Hyperion Renewables for an undisclosed sum. It’s the second renewables deal the fund has completed in Portugal, having already backed a hydro asset in the country.
The Jupiter Global Ecology Growth fund has recorded -2.7% returns year-to-date, compared with -0.4% and -0.7% for its two benchmarks over the same period. The fund is managed by Charlie Thomas, and top holdings include water companies A O Smith and Xylem, and food manufacturer Cranswick.
UK manager J8 Capital Management and German investment company Universal-Investment are to launch the UI – J8 Global Absolute Return UCITS Fund, which has a social and ethical criteria. The sub-fund is designed to handle volatility of 10%, with expected long-term returns of between 7% and 10% per annum. The strategy of the sub-fund has already been trading live for over three years in the J8 Futures Fund and outperformed the SG-CTA index in every one.
Dutch social investment company Goodwell Investments has agreed to a follow-on investment in Musoni Services, a Dutch microfinance software company that works to provide access to financial services to consumers in emerging markets via microfinance institutions. Since Goodwell made its first investment in Musoni in December 2015, Musoni’s client base has expanded from 39 MFIs in eight countries in November 2015 to 90 MFIs in 10 countries at the end of 2017. Goodwell’s second investment in Musoni will be used to drive expansion into new markets and strengthen and expand the team. The investment is from the recently closed Goodwell MDC III fund, that acts as cornerstone investor of the €100m uMunthu fund, for which Goodwell is currently fundraising.The European Investment Bank is considering backing a new €200m infrastructure fund, investing in environmental facilities in EU countries. The Pearl Environmental Infrastructure Fund would partner with European mid-to- large corporates and municipalities to invest in wastewater treatment plants, energy efficiency facilities and waste-to- energy infrastructure, which it says will improve the quality of life of local residents. The EIB is mulling a €50m commitment.
The UK’s £1bn London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham Superannuation Fund is reportedly considering a proposal to reduce its fossil fuel holdings as part of its next investment strategy review. A February report from the council’s pensions subcommittee recommended a “reduced fossil fuel exposure plan”. Currently, the bulk of the fund’s exposure to this sector is in its passive equity portfolio procured via the London Collective Investment Vehicle (CIV), which does not have any passive equity trackers that exclude fossil fuels. The fund has representation on a London CIV working group in the process of identifying a manager to provide a passive equity ex-fossil fuel mandate.
BNP Paribas Asset Management is preparing to launch an emerging markets green bond fund. RI reported this week that the new vehicle will invest across issuer types in emerging markets. IFC and Amundi teamed up to close the first emerging-markets green bond fund last week, at $1.4bn, becoming the largest fund dedicated to green bonds in history.
Columbia Threadneedle has praised Danone for what it describes as “the first conforming social bond from a corporate issuer” since the launch of the Social Bond Principles last year. The French company sold €300m of notes this week to finance and refinance projects with positive social impacts, including responsible farming, social inclusion and the development of “nutritional solutions”. Columbia’s Director of Responsible Investment Portfolio Management described the deal as “a significant event in the development of the European social bond market”.