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Responsible Funds, May 16: Candriam expands Sustainable World fund’s investment universe

The round-up of responsible funds news

Candriam, the former Dexia Asset Management that’s now part of New York Life, says it is considering gradually expanding the universe for its €218m Sustainable World fund. Bart Goosens, Global Head of Quantitative Equity Management, said an expansion to include mid-cap stocks is being looked at, which would mean that companies like LED lighting firm Cree, financial data group FactSet, investment house Eaton Vance and index and ESG provider MSCI could be considered for inclusion.

Swiss asset manager responsAbility has teamed up with German development bank KfW to launch a joint venture that will invest in renewable energy projects in the Sub-Saharan region. ResponsAbility Renewable Energy Holding (rAREH), begins with $25.5m (€18.6m) in seed money, some of which will go to four small hydro and biomass facilities in the region. The Nairobi, Kenya-based venture has also identified another 50 renewable projects with more than 300MW of capacity as investment targets. Speaking at rAREH’s launch in Nairobi, responsAbility CEO Klaus Tischhauser noted the lack of players in the energy sector was the reason why only 7% of Africa’s potential for hydropower was being realised. Link

Local Government Super (LGS), the A$7bn (€4.8bn) pension fund for local government employees in Australia, is reportedly investing an undisclosed amount in a “community infrastructure fund (CommIF)” rolled out by Australian asset manager AMP Capital. According to AMP Capital, CommIF invests in social infrastructure realised through private-public partnerships (PPP). Examples include waterworks, community housing, and recreational facilities.

Unitus Seed Fund, the Indian seed-stage impact investor, has led an equity investment in mGaadi, a mobile-commerce ordering service for auto rickshaws. mGaadi will use the investment to further develop its network of auto drivers, to enhance its technology platform, and to prepare its operations for significant expansion in Bangalore and other India metros. This is Unitus Seed Fund’s fourth investment in such commerce marketplaces.French asset manager AXA Investment Managers (AXA IM) plans to launch an “impact investment” fund-of-funds due to growing client demand for such products, according to the Sustainability Report. Matt Christensen, head of responsible investment at AXA IM, was quoted as saying the firm was launching the fund-of-funds with €150m of its own assets and that the product would be fully invested by the end of 2014. According to Christensen, the fund-of-funds will invest in solutions aimed at increasing access to healthcare, education and finance.

Aquila Capital, the German alternatives manager, has formed a strategic partnership with ECPI, the Italian ESG research and index firm, to provide what Aquila described as “sustainable investment solutions” in the retail space. An Aquila spokeswoman said further details on the partnership would be announced later. Founded in 2001 in Hamburg, Aquila has €6.5bn in assets under management and employs a staff of more than 250. Beyond Hamburg, Aquila has offices in Frankfurt, Zurich, London and Singapore. ECPI is based in Milan and has an office in Luxembourg.

Australian Ethical Investment, the Sydney-based boutique, says its funds under management have risen 5.2% to A$843.1m (€575.7m) at the end of March – up from the $801.7m figure registered at the end of 2013. “We’ve had an exceptional quarter with significant increases in new superannuation member joins and rollovers,” said MD Phil Vernon.

The European Commission has launched the Sustainable Industry Low Carbon II (SILC II) initiative with a budget of €20m. It will fund projects which develop low-carbon technology solutions, with a special focus on energy-intensive industries, in order to achieve significant greenhouse gas emission (GHG) reductions in EU industry.

Alliance Trust Investments, the UK funds house, says three funds from its Sustainable Future fund range have been added to Distribution Technology’s Dynamic Planner platform and that two further funds will be launched in the third quarter. It said the five funds represent the first SRI fund range in the UK to be risk profiled this way.