Responsible Funds, May 15: Germany SIF reports 44% rise in sustainable assets

The round-up of the latest responsible funds news

Sustainably managed assets in Germany, Austria and Switzerland posted a big rise last year, increasing 44% to total just under €121bn. According to a new market report from Forum Nachhaltige Geldanlagen (FNG), the SIF for the three markets, the biggest growth in the assets was in Germany, where the volume jumped 70% in 2014 to total €52.7bn. Austria posted the second-highest growth (+36% to €8.9bn) and Switzerland the third (+26% to €59.3bn). According to the FNG, the share of sustainably managed assets relative to the entire market is highest in Austria at 5.7%. The FNG report also said more than €4trn in assets managed in the German-speaking countries omit controversial weapons like cluster bombs and anti-personnel mines. Link (German)

A new emerging markets fund with an ESG slant has been unveiled by industry veteran Robert Lloyd George (who sold his eponymously named firm to the Bank of Montreal in 2011) and Jean Keller’s Argos Investment Managers boutique. The Argos Lloyd George Advisory Bamboo Fund is a new, long only, actively managed UCITS fund focused on emerging market high growth sectors. The pair said: “The fund name derives from the qualities of the plant, which are also those the manager believes are necessary to flourish in unpredictable markets: toughness, flexibility, hardiness and grace, manifested through a strong ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) policy.”

Swedish asset management firm Tundra Fonder says that with seed money from three public institutions in Sweden, it has launched a frontier market fund with a sustainable profile. The fund will seek investments in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Kenya but avoid companies involved in weapons, alcohol, tobacco, pornography or gambling as well as those that violate UN conventions. In deciding the exclusions, Tundra has hired two analysts to work in its Pakistan office and will rely on research provided by Ethix SRI Advisors. Founded in 2011, Tundra has SEK2bn (€212m) in assets under management.

Germany-based Steyler Ethik Bank is now offering a sustainable fund for foundations and charitable organisations. The Steyler Fair und Nachhaltig foundation fund is the latest addition to the bank’s range and is tailored to the particular needs of foundations and other not-for-profit organisations. It invests exclusively in companies and countries which have been awarded “Oekom Prime Status” and which do not breach the stipulated exclusion criteria.

Year-to-date, the Global Climate Change Equity offering from Schroders has returned 4.7% (against a 2.3% return for the MSCI World – Net Return benchmark). The $195.7m fund, launched in 2007, invests in worldwide companies “which will benefit from efforts to accommodate or limit the impact of global climate change”.France’s €48bn asset manager La Française and London-based Inflection Point Capital Management (IPCM) have said their La Française Inflection Point venture has launched its first ‘strategically aware investing’ (SAI) line of equity funds, covering four geographic regions: Euro, Europe, Emerging Markets and Global, representing close to €1bn in assets under management and offering various investment themes. They added that a low carbon theme is “work in progress”. They said the method “goes beyond” traditional ESG criteria to include three additional factors reflecting companies’ long- term perspectives. These are innovation capacity, the ability to anticipate and adapt to changing trends, and a company’s positioning relative to existing global trends.

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the US development finance institution, has launched its 2015 Global Engagement Call for Proposals. OPIC is inviting proposals from fund managers seeking OPIC financing for funds that invest in companies operating in OPIC-eligible emerging market countries via direct equity, debt, and equity-related instruments. OPIC seeks to select one or more funds targeting investments in OPIC-eligible countries for expansion, business development, spin-outs, management buyouts, restructuring, and/or privatization.

The €300m JSS OekoSar Equity fund from J. Safra Sarasin has returned 13.31% in the year to date (against a 15.28% return for the MSCI World benchmark). The Luxembourg-domiciled fund, managed by Arthur Hoffmann, invests at least two thirds of its assets in companies “that make a significant contribution to environmentally and socially responsible business practices”. Its top three holdings are Wells Fargo, Gilead Sciences and Home Depot.

The €202.6m Deka-UmweltInvest fund which specialises in companies involved in climate conservation, environmental preservation and renewable resources, has returned 15.69% in the year to date, according to a new fund factsheet as of April 30. Benchmark performance for the period was 14.30%. The fund, managed by Michael Schneider, was launched in December 2007.

Global Impact, a US-based charity, has launched a fund aimed at providing financial aid to refugees from the Syrian conflict. In a statement, Global Impact said its ‘Syrian Refugee Fund’ aimed to take in at least $1m (€880,000) from foundations, companies and individuals. The money will be used to support refugees in Jordan and other countries that are impact by the conflict. Specifically, it will go to finance health care, education and economic development for the displaced persons, Global Impact said.