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Responsible Funds, March 24: CalPERS buys into 550MW California solar PV infrastructure

The round-up of the latest responsible funds news

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) has entered into an agreement to purchase up to a 25% stake in Desert Sunlight Investment Holdings LLC, which owns two solar photovoltaic power generation facilities near Palm Springs, California. The facilities began commercial operations in late 2014 with a capacity of 550MW, selling all of their output to California utility companies under long-term contracts. It will buy the stake from Sumitomo Corporation of Americas through its Gulf Pacific Power account, a partnership between CalPERS and infrastructure manager Harbert Management Corporation. Financial terms were not disclosed.

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has announced that the Securities and Exchange Commission has rejected ExxonMobil’s attempt to block a climate change resolution for its annual meeting that the New York State Common Retirement Fund had co-filed with the Church of England. “This is a major victory for investors who are working to address the risks that global warming presents to our portfolios,” DiNapoli said.

Separately, the Rockefeller Family Fund has said this week it will divest from fossil fuels as quickly as possible and “eliminate holdings” of Exxon Mobil for allegedly misleading people about climate change risks, Reuters reported. The U.S.-based charity will also divest its coal and Canadian oil sands holdings, the report added.

The Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC), the Australasian investor body, has welcomed reports that the Australian government has decided to retain the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and to establish the Clean Energy Innovation Fund (CEIF). The move was “a positive one”, said IGCC Chief Executive Emma Herd.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is considering investing €40m in a green bond fund that would finance renewable projects in Italy. The fund was launched by UK infrastructure investor Foresight Group and aims to reach a volume of €200m. In a procurement note, the EIB described the fund’s strategy as seeking “to provide innovative debt financing in the form of mini bonds to smaller renewable energy projects in Italy.”

Retail Charity Bonds PLC, the UK non-profit special purpose vehicle, has launched the Charities Aid Foundation Retail Charity Bond offering 5% due 2026. It’s the third bond to be issued through the Retail Charity Bonds platform, which was created as an issuing vehicle to enable UK charities to raise medium term debt finance through bonds issued to retail and wholesale investors. Canaccord Genuity is acting as lead manager on the issue.The Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) has entered into a strategic partnership with D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments (DESRI), the North American renewable energy asset manager with some 1,000MW of capacity. Under the deal, AIMCo expects to provide up to US$500m to support acquisitions and growth at DESRI, which is part of the $37bn D. E. Shaw group.

Four Japanese solar power plant operators are to list their plants as investment trusts and sell their shares on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Reuters reports. The companies include Sparx, Ichigo, Takara Leben and Renewable Japan Co. Reuters also said the listings could raise up to JPY10bn (€7.9m) each, adding that they would happen after April when renewable energy trusts become exempt from corporation tax for 20 years.

LuxFLAG, the Luxembourg-based sustainable labeling scheme for investment funds, says two new products have qualified for its certification, bringing the total number to 45. The two funds are the ‘Central American Timber Fund’ from Luxembourg-based BAUM Management and a microfinance fund from German ethical bank GLS. Both funds will carry the LuxFLAG label from April 2016. LuxFLAG also said it had won four new associate members, including Quilvest Asset Management S.A.; RBC Investor Services Bank S.A.; Société Générale Securities Services; and Union Investment Luxembourg SA.

Endeavour Vision, a Geneva-based health care investor, says its Endeavour Medtech Growth fund has taken in €250m in assets from investors, making it one of the largest vehicles investing in medical technology worldwide. The fund is to invest between €10m and €20m in medical companies based in Europe and the US. According to Endeavour, the fund has already made its first four investments, including Gynesonics, a firm developing a treatment for uterine fibroids, and ReShape Medical, a company which has developed gastric balloons for weight loss.

The European Investment Fund (EIF) has teamed up with the Institute for Social Banking (‘La NEF’) to provide €33m to more than 300 French micro and social entrepreneurs that they say have difficulty obtaining loans. The initiative will provide unsecured, low-cost loans to fair trade producers, organic farmers and micro-borrowers in the renewable energy sector.

US financial services giant TIAA, following its rebranding from TIAACREF, has now renamed its investment arm TIAA Global Asset Management (TIAA GAM). The re-branded business starts with $854bn (€761bn) in assets and around 2,500 employees, among them 500 investment professionals.