Responsible Funds, November 10: Liontrust, Globalance, Fidelity, Phaunos, Morningstar, Lyxor

The latest responsible funds developments

Liontrust, the £9.8bn London-based fund manager, which acquired SRI fund manager Alliance Trust Investments late last year (2016), has been appointed manager of the University of Sussex’s investments following a competitive tender process. According to a statement, the university in the south of England “will invest in funds managed by Liontrust that meet the University’s Socially Responsible Investment policy aims”. Allan Spencer, Director of Finance at Sussex, told RI that the “University will be moving just under £10m of funds from our current investment managers CCLA and Investec into the new investment managers over coming months”. Liontrust’s Sustainable Investment Team is led by Peter Michaelis, the former Head of Sustainable and Responsible Investment at Alliance Trust Investments. The SRI team – which includes Simon Clements and Neil Brown – was itself acquired by Alliance Trust from Aviva Investors in 2012 for £1m.

US mutual fund giant Fidelity International has been appointed by Cassa Centrale Banca, Italy’s federation of local banks, to run its new “sustainable and socially responsible fund”. The NEF Ethical Total Return Bond fund, which is not “constrained to an index”, invests in global bonds with high ESG standards.

The University of Edinburgh has reportedly moved £60m into sustainability and low-carbon companies – via two new funds – as part of Scottish University’s 2040 Climate Strategy. The first will focus on sustainability issues, including the production of greener products and low-carbon infrastructure, and the second fund will invest exclusively in renewable technology. In 2016, the University of Edinburgh also divested from three major coal and tar sands companies: Shell, RTZ and BHP Billiton.

Phaunos Timber, the UK forestry fund that is being wound up, has selected Pöyry Capital to act for it in the disposal of its New Zealand and South American forestry interests – with a fee structure “closely aligned with shareholders’ interests”. The liquidation of Phaunos Boston Inc and Phaunos Norge AS are under way, along with a number of other dormant subsidiary entities. It expects to make an initial cash distribution of up to $25m to shareholders before year-end. The hiring of an interim COO/CFO is under way.

Morningstar’s head of sustainability research, Jon Hale, has identified five funds that achieve impact alongside financial return. They are CRA Qualified Investment, Calvert Green Bond, TIAACREF Social Choice Bond, Domini Impact International Equity and Walden Asset Management.

A retail offer for New Energy Solar Fund, from Australia’s Walsh & Company Asset Management, opened today (November 10). “New Energy Solar offers investors the ability to invest in a sustainable investment business focussed on operating large scale, solar power plants that generate emission free power,” it said.Reto Ringger’s sustainable private bank Globalance has launched what it claims are the first investment strategies which are in line with the UN climate goal of two degrees. Ringger, who founded sustainability boutique SAM Group (now part of RobecoSAM), launched Globalance in 2011. The 2 Degrees Climate Portfolios, which rely on research from the 2 Degrees Investing Initiative and Carbon Delta, consist of equities as well as corporate bonds and low-correlated assets such as microfinance funds, wind energy, and insurance securitisations. Clients of Globalance Invest, which include foundations, family offices, retail investors, and high net-worth individuals, can check the impact of their assets in a “digital cockpit”.

Société Générale’s Lyxor arm has reportedly partnered with Dutch gender equality advocacy group Equileap and index provider Solactive to launch Europe’s first gender equality ETF. The new exchange traded fund will track 150 companies taken from the 3,000-strong Equileap Global Gender Equality index of companies of gender equality leaders. The fund, which replicates the Lyxor Global Gender Equality UCITS ETF, will be available on the Euronext exchange.

Inter-American Development Bank Group (IDB Group), the development bank for Latin America and the Caribbean, has rebranded its private sector arm to IDB Invest as the Group ramps up its private sector focus. Formerly known as the Inter-American Investment Corporation, IDB Invest has a $11.6bn portfolio under management.

The €285.1m F&C Responsible Global Equity Fund from BMO Global Asset Management has returned 7.67% in the year to date (as at the end of September) according to a new fund document. That compares to a benchmark (MSCI World NR) return of 3.51% over the same period. Over the one-year view, the fund, managed by Jamie Jenkins and Nick Henderson, has returned 12.54% (benchmark: 12.33%). The fund was launched in 2005 and invests in ethically screened companies.

The EU plans to “mobilise at least half a trillion euros of additional investments by 2020” with an extension – in “terms of both duration and financial capacity” – to the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI). Established in mid-2015, the fund, which operates within the European Investment Bank, is on track for attaining its initial €315bn target in additional investments by mid-2018.

Golden Lane Housing, the UK’s housing charity established by learning disability charity, Mencap, has raised £10m through a Retail Charity Bond, closing early due to demand from investors. The proceeds will be used to further Golden Lane Housing’s charitable objectives, including to re-finance previous bonds and to buy and adapt much needed, high-quality housing across the country for people with a learning disability.