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Responsible Funds, March 4: Hartford Funds, BNP Paribas, Essex IM, NZ Super, South Pole, Lord Abbett

The round-up of the latest responsible funds news

Hartford Funds, the $74.4bn US funds firm that arm that’s part of the Hartford Financial Services Group, has launched the Hartford Environmental Opportunities Fund, a mutual fund that invests in companies promoting environmental sustainability. Sub-advised by Wellington Management, the new fund seeks long-term capital appreciation by investing in companies that directly address environmental challenges. “We created and launched the Environmental Opportunities Fund as part of our continued commitment to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment [UNPRI] initiative,” said Anita Baldwin, Vice President and Managing Director, Head of Research. Wellington’s Alan Hsu and Tom Levering will serve as the Portfolio Managers of the new offering.

BNP Paribas Investment Partners has launched a sterling share class of BNP Paribas L1 Equity World Aqua, in what it said was a response to growing demand from institutional and wholesale clients in the UK. Equity World Aqua (the ‘Aqua Fund’) is a sub-fund of BNP Paribas L1 SICAV, an open-ended company incorporated under Luxembourg law. The Aqua Fund invests in international equities with exposure to the water sector value chain and is managed by Impax Asset Management.

Canadian Solar, the Ontario-based, Nasdaq-listed solar power company, has entered into a financing deal under which Goldman Sachs Japan Co., Ltd. has agreed to arrange a JPY3bn (€23.9m) project finance bond for Canadian Solar’s 10.2MW Aomori-Misawa facility in Japan. The non-recourse bond, which is backed by the project assets, has a maturity of 20 years and a fixed coupon rate of 1.4%. Goldman Sachs was the bond arranger and Shinsei Trust and Banking Co. is the lender.

Austria’s Erste Asset Management says eight of its investment funds have again been officially certified as environmentally friendly. Sponsors of the certification are Austria’s Environment ministry and the Association for Consumer Information (VKI). The funds in question include Erste Responsible Stock Europe, Global and America; as well as Erste Responsible Bond, Bond Euro Corporate and Bond Global Impact. With €6bn invested in the products, Erste AM is Austria’s market leader for sustainable funds.

The NZ Super Fund has appointed a subsidiary of Ramius LLC, the global investment management business of Nasdaq-listed Cowen Group, to manage a US$200m merger arbitrage mandate. The mandate, which focuses on investment opportunities arising through M&A deals, mostly in listed companies in North America and Europe, is the fund’s first investment in merger arbitrage. Announcement

The European Investment Fund (EIF), KredEx, the Estonian financial institution, and the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications (MoE) have signed an agreement to establish EstFund, a €60m fund-of-funds to ultimately invest in Estonian companies.Pension funds and sovereign wealth funds could be interested in buying into the UK’s soon-to-be privatized Green Investment Bank, the bank’s Chief Executive Shaun Kingsbury told BBC radio. The government has confirmed that it has launched the sale process, saying: “The transaction will involve both the sale of existing shares owned by the Government and also the commitment of additional capital for GIB by new investors. The bank will have a “strong green commitment”: its so-called ‘green purposes’ will continue to be independently protected through the creation of a Special Share, the government said. The government is being advised by Bank of America Merrill Lynch while the GIB is being advised by UBS. More detail about how to bid is available here.

South Pole Group and the CDP, which are spearheading an effort to develop the first climate impact rating for European investment funds (known as ‘CLIMPAX’), say the project has won the support of two big German asset management firms. The firms are Deka and Union Investment, Germany’s second- and third-biggest investment fund providers respectively. “We particularly support the intention to incorporate qualitative data points that go beyond mere carbon footprinting,” ESG officials from Deka and Union said in a statement released by the CDP. CLIMPAX is currently being beta-tested and will be launched in early 2017.

Essex Investment Management, the Boston-based asset manager, has teamed up
with cross-town peer Hamersley Partners to broaden the distribution of Essex’s Global Environmental Opportunities Strategy (GEOS). Launched in 2009, GEOS offers exposure to “select, highly-exploitable sustainability trends” in a public equity fund which, Essex says, offers greater liquidity and diversity than private equity alternatives.

Lord Abbett, the US-based, privately held money manager with around $125.5bn in assets under management, has become a signatory to the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI). Founded in 1929, Lord Abbett is one of the oldest money management firms in the US. Last month, it announced that Robert Gerber, Partner & Chief Investment Officer, would retire to be succeeded by Robert Lee, currently Deputy CIO.

China is reportedly planning to set up a market for renewable energy certificates to boost the use of cleaner energy. Reuters, citing the National Energy Administration, said power firms would be able to trade “green certificates” that represent the proportion of non-hydro renewable energy that they generate. The news agency added that the NEA didn’t give a timetable for the creation of a trading system.