Responsible Funds, May 8: Novethic, SSGA, Aquila Capital, UNICEF, EIB

The round-up of the latest responsible funds news

Responsible investment assets have reached more than €550bn in France according to the annual Novethic survey of the market, this year carried out with the French SIF (FIR). The survey said the assets broke down into €223bn in pure RI strategies and funds, notably best-in-class strategies, which account for 90% of the figure. These strategies rose by 31% in assets last year. Assets covered by ESG integration reached €356bn, a rise of 20% last year. Assets covered by so-called normative exclusions reached nearly €2 trillion, with the survey noting that such exclusions barely existed ten years ago. Assets in green thematic funds – looked at for the first time this year – were calculated at €3.8bn, including €1.4bn in green bonds.

State Street Global Advisors (SSGA), the asset management arm of State Street, has reportedly launched a UCITS green bond index fund. Funds Europe reported that the Global Green Bond Index Fund tracks the Barclays MSCI Green Bond Index and that it would be offered via a Luxembourg Sicav and be available to investors across Europe.

The Danish business ministry has proposed a DKK2bn (€268m) agricultural fund to boost the development of the country’s agriculture sector. DKK500m would come from the state and the rest from investors such as pension funds. “Good initiative… ready for dialogue,” tweeted Torben Möger, CEO at PensionDanmark.

What’s claimed to be the world’s first dedicated European hydropower fund for institutional investors has been launched by Aquila Capital, the alternative investment firm. The Aquila European Hydropower Fund aims to deliver an IRR (internal rate of return) of 7-9%, long-term stable cash yields and low volatility. The fund will invest mostly in Scandinavia and other European Union member states. The Fund is a SICAVSIF (S.A.) domiciled in Luxembourg and the minimum investment size is €10m.

UK-based social investment specialist Bridges Ventures has made its debut US investment in Springboard Education, a provider of affordable before- and after-school educational programming. The company was founded by Kevin Flynn, a successful software entrepreneur, who launched programs in two schools in Massachusetts in 2008 after becoming frustrated by the poor quality of the after-school programming available to his own children. In the UK, Bridges has invested in education sub-sectors like apprenticeships, through Babington Business College, and early childhood education, through the London Early Years Foundation.The Oslo suburb of Bærum in Norway is tendering for a NOK700m (€83.5m) global equities fund with SRI screening and krone screening. The deadline for receipt of tenders or requests to participate is June 1. The maximum contract period is four years plus options for an extension for one year twice. Link

Matthews Asia has launched the Matthews Asia ESG Fund. Matthews is the largest dedicated Asia-only investment specialist in the US and CIO Robert Horrocks said: “A growing number of companies in Asia are now recognizing the value of adopting ESG business practices and the potential positive effect it can have on generating additional shareholder returns. As the focus on ESG in Asia increases, this active investment approach could potentially provide better risk-adjusted returns due to its explicit focus on long-range risks to businesses emanating from environmental, social and governance factors.” Link

UNICEF Innovation has launched the New Global Innovation Centre and Innovation Fund with $9m to invest in approaches to improve the lives of children in the poorest places. The pooled funding mechanism is based on successful venture investment structures including a focus on early-stage investments, a portfolio approach, and meeting selection criteria for investment.
Founding members of the Innovation Fund – which currently holds $4m – include The Walt Disney Company and the Government of Denmark.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is considering making a €30m investment in the Meridiam Intrastructure Africa Fund. The fund, from €2.8bn infrastructure investor Meridiam, will finance infrastructure projects in the sectors of energy and power, transportation, environmental infrastructure, social infrastructure and telecommunications infrastructure in African countries. It will make eight-10 investments predominantly in greenfield projects, but may also invest in selected secondary projects at the operational stage.

ESG research house Sustainalytics has made|%20Keyera%20Corp.%20Added%20to%20Jantzi%20Social%20Index&utm_term=Click%20here&sid=isze4Q3gi a change to its Jantzi Social Index. Talisman Energy, which is being delisted from the S&P/TSX Composite Index after buying bought by Repsol SA will be replaced by oil and gas operator Keyera Corp. It said Keyera has an environmental, social and governance (ESG) record that is “above average” within its industry: “In addition to its strong performance in areas such as health and safety, the company has shown improvement in its ESG disclosure in areas such as carbon emissions management.”