Responsible Funds, March 6: Gates Foundation, AXA IM, Danish funds, LGT, Triodos

The round-up of responsible funds news

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is to invest $52m (€47.8m) in a German vaccine maker called CureVac, according to a Reuters report citing the $42.3bn charity. It said the non-listed biotech firm uses proprietary technology, allowing for quick and cheap production. The cash would not only support development but also the construction of a production facility. The pair would also work together to develop vaccines to fight infectious disease, the report added.

AXA Investment Managers’ Global Equity SmartBeta ESG strategy in Australia is 5% up on its benchmark for the first half, according to the Sustainability Report citing the fund manager. It said the AXA IM All Country World Index (ACWI) SmartBeta Equity Fund was launched in September in the country. It currently has AU$70m (€49.8m) in assets under management.

Krishnamurthy Vijayan, former chief executive and chairman of JPMorgan Asset Management in India, reportedly plans to launch a new impact investment fund in June this year. The fund is raising capital from a combination of institutional and high-net worth investors in India. The fund will invest in companies that create “livelihood’ and is aiming for a 25% internal rate of return.

US-based City of London Investment Management Company, an emerging markets fund manager which specializes in investing in closed-end investment companies, has announced a programme where it will promote ESG awareness in emerging market investment trusts and funds. It will use Sustainalytics’ ESG research as the basis for its work with investment managers.

US wealth management firms Abacus Wealth Partners and Aspiriant have entered into a new joint venture dubbed Align, which will offer philanthropic strategy and impact investment portfolios to clients and their financial advisers. Jennifer Kenning, former Director of Wealth Management and spearhead of impact investing at Aspiriant, will lead the new venture

Australia’s Ethical Advisers’ Co-operative (EAC) has increased ethically screened funds under management by 18% over the last year to over AU$910m. “With global responsible investment rising $21 trillion last year, investors are increasingly aligning their values with their investment decisions,” said Board Member Louise Edkins.Danish pension schemes ATP, PensionDanmark and Danica Invest have teamed up with Danske Bank to establish a new DKK1bn (€134m) fund that will invest in Danish small and midsize enterprises (SMEs). The purpose of the new fund is to provide the SMEs with subordinated debt capital. The schemes are providing the capital for the fund, while Danske Bank will administer it. The SMEs to be targeted are those with annual turnover of at least DKK50m and in need of at least DKK10m. Announcement (Danish)

The €160m LGT Sustainable Equity Fund Global offering has returned 11.5% in January, according to fund documents. It compares to a 5.29% outcome over the period for its MSCI World benchmark. The fund is an actively managed equity portfolio using sustainable criteria, managed LGT Capital Partners, part of the LGT group of the Princely Family of Liechtenstein.

Nineteen major global institutional investors have joined forces to create an infrastructure lobbying organization. The Global Infrastructure Investor Association (GIIA), IPE reports, includes investors such as APG, PGGM, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and PSP Investments – all of which are signatories to the Principles for Responsible Investment.

Triodos Bank has reported a 10% growth of assets under management at the end of 2014 to €10.6bn, comprised of Triodos Bank, Triodos Investment Funds and Triodos Private Banking. The sustainable bank saw net profit rise 17% to €30.1m. CEO Peter Blom said: “While society continues to struggle with environmental, social and economic problems, we notice it is no longer governments, but individuals and entrepreneurs that are at the vanguard of efforts to build a better world.”

A €750m sustainability bond has been released by Germany’s State of North Rhine-Westphalia. The AAA (Fitch), Aa1 (Moody`s), AA- (S&P) – rated issue “was met with strong interest from a wide range of investors”. The largest share of bonds went to Fund Managers, closely followed by banks with 33%, official institutions with 21%, insurance companies 6%, retail 3% and pension funds 2%.