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Responsible Funds, November 4: First Affirmative, Envestnet, Vigeo Eiris, OppenheimerFunds, People’s Trust

The round-up of the latest responsible funds news

FOLIOfn, the US brokerage and investment company, has acquired SRI advisory firm First Affirmative Financial Network. FOLOfn said First Affirmative would “empower” registered investment advisors (RIAs) with “more robust investment strategies that integrate environmental, social, governance (ESG) factor analysis”. First Affirmative, which has around $1bn under management and administration and where former US SIF Directors George Gay and Steve Schueth are CEO and President, would retain its name and business locations. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. It comes just ahead of First Affirmative’s SRI Conference (the former SRI in the Rockies) event in Denver.

OppenheimerFunds, the US funds house with $222bn in assets, is expanding its ‘Beta Solutions’ client offerings into the ESG space with the launch of two exchange traded funds (ETFs). They are the Oppenheimer ESG Revenue ETF, which focuses on US large-cap equities, and the Oppenheimer Global ESG Revenue ETF, which focuses on global large- and mid-cap equities. To evaluate companies for their ESG standards, OppenheimerFunds partnered with both Sustainalytics and MSCI ESG Ratings.

The European SRI retail fund market has continued to grow, according to ESG research firm Vigeo Eiris. It found assets under management growing by 16% to almost €158bn – representing 2% of the overall retail funds market. But the number of funds slightly decreased to 1,138 (from 1,204 in 2015). The figures come in the 17th edition of the study “Green, Social and Ethical Funds in Europe”, the yearly report produced by Vigeo Eiris Italy in partnership with Morningstar.

The Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI), comprising 10 major oil firms, has announced an investment of $1bn over the next 10 years to “develop and accelerate” the commercial deployment of innovative low emissions technologies. OGCI Climate Investments (OGCI CI) will aim to deploy successfully-developed new technologies among member companies and beyond. “Working in partnership with like-minded initiatives across all stakeholder groups and sectors, the OGCI CI believes its emission reduction impact can be multiplied across industries,” they said in a statement. A CEO and management team for the venture will be announced “in the near future”.

Banque de Luxembourg Investments has been chosen to manage the first fund launched by Funds for Goods which has raised €50m. Funds for Good is a new investment firm which donates half of its own profits to a new foundation providing interest-free loans and coaching support for unemployed people to set up businesses. To do this, Funds for Good plans to set up investment funds, the first of which will be managed by Fabrice Kremer of the Banque de Luxembourg Investments.

RBC Global Asset Management has been chosen by the US state of Pennsylvania to invest $100m in an impact investing strategy supporting affordable housing, health and education in the state. The Pennsylvania treasury will invest $100m through RBC Global Asset Management’s $910m Access Capital Community Investment Strategy that will design a portfolio of securitized, fixed-income investments in Pennsylvania projects. Investment performance will be measured against the Barclays Capital Aggregate Index. Link

Forest Finance France (FFF) and Amundi have joined forces to develop long-term forestry projects with Amundi investing €500,000 via its FCP Finance & Solidarité fund to support FFF on work in seriously deforested zones.Envestnet, the New York Stock Exchange-listed wealth management solutions firm, has launched a new series of its Quantitative Portfolios managed by its Envestnet | PMC portfolio consulting group. The PMC Impact Quantitative Portfolios products bring together “beta exposure, tax efficiencies, and market index returns with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investment preferences” in a passively managed separately managed account (SMA) structure. It developed the new Climate Change, ESG, and Gender Lens Investing portfolios in partnership with Sustainalytics and Veris Wealth Partners.

The People’s Trust, which intends to launch as an investment trust on the London Stock Exchange in the first half of 2017, has already raised 50% of its minimum £100,000 target from 1,000 Founders in the first week of an eight-week campaign. The brainchild of former Investment Association CEO Daniel Godfrey, the fund will be 100% owned by its customers, with no commercial sponsor.

Gresham House, the listed specialist asset manager, has reached a £15m first close of its forestry fund. Gresham House Forestry Fund LP has commitments and finance from university college endowment funds, family offices and private individuals.

The European Investment Bank has invested €40m in Geneva-based Quaero Capital’s European Infrastructure Fund, which aims to commit €250m in equity financing for social infrastructure, transport, telecoms, energy and public or provide amenities.

The Finnish co-op group SOK is reportedly investing €1m into a social impact bond to support immigrants integrating into the country. “The profit target for this project is around 8%,” said Teri Heilala, CEO of FIM Capital which is in charge of the fundraising among investors. “The state only pays for results, which are measured by tax receipts from those who participate in the project.” The social impact bond has been developed by the Finnish Innovation Fund (Sitra).

The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank group, is supporting the creation of an impact investing fund for Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. The MIF will act as anchor investor for the fund, which is being put together with advisory firm Acrux Partners. They are looking for a General Partner, saying: “Fund managers with a proven track record, who are interested in managing a fund investing in startup and scaleup companies which generate a positive impact in the society or/and the environment in the mentioned countries, are invited to apply.”

A Donald Trump victory in the US election would be a “disaster”, according to top Robeco fund manager Mark Glazener. Glazener, Head of the fund manager’s Global Equity team and portfolio manager of the flagship Robeco NV fund, said in a note (published on October 31): “A Trump triumph would be a disaster for equity markets, though the polls up until now have forecast Clinton winning the Presidency while the Democrats win control of the Senate, which would be more favorable for stocks going forward.”

Australian infrastructure firm Palisade has opened its Renewable Energy Fund (PREF) for open to commitments, saying it estimates that over A$10bn of investment will be required over the next five years to achieve the Government’s aim of sourcing 23% of all energy usage from renewable sources by 2020. PREF, which has a target size of A$500m, has a mandate to invest in Australian-based renewable energy assets, with a key focus on wind and solar assets. Announcement