Responsible Funds, November 24: Norges, Unisuper, Schroders, WHEB, EIB, Tobam, SUSI

The latest responsible funds developments.

Norges Bank Investment Management has teamed up with UNICEF to establish a network where companies can assess the business risk of adverse impacts on children, and also challenge and improve their respect for and work on children’s human rights. “Over time, we hope and expect that the network will contribute to improved market practices among companies and greater respect for children’s rights,” says Carine Smith Ihenacho, Global Head of Ownership Strategies. A selection of companies in which NBIM has holdings have been invited to join the network and “more than ten 10” will attend the first network event in Geneva on November 27.

The €393m Global Climate Change Equity fund from Schroders has returned 27% in the year to the end of October, according to a new fund update. That compares to a benchmark (MSCI World – Net Return) return in the period of 18.2%. Over the one-year view, the fund, which was launched in 2007 and is managed by Simon Webber and team, has returned 26.4%. The fund aims to provide capital growth by investing in equities of companies worldwide which the manager believes will benefit from efforts to accommodate or limit the impact of global climate change.

WHEB Asset Management, the-London based sustainability manager, has won ‘Best Sustainable Investment Fund Management Group’ at the Investment Week 2017 awards. Its FP WHEB Sustainability Fund was also highly commended for ‘Best Sustainable Investment Fund’ at the awards ceremony, now in its tenth year. The judges said WHEB “highlighted both knowledge and dedication, as well an excellent team not afraid to show the courage of their convictions on sustainable issues”.

US-based TriLinc Global Impact Fund has announced an additional $17m “in term loans and trade finance facilities” to SME companies operating in Latin America and Southeast Asia. The allocation takes the fund’s financing commitments for “business expansion and socioeconomic development in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia” to $391m.

UK-based investment manager Castlefield Investment Partners has reportedly launched a new ethical European equity fund. The B.E.S.T Sustainable European fund – which stands for business and financial; environment and ecological; social; and transparency and governance – will be run by Rory Hammerson, who joined the firm this year. Hammerson is the former CEO of Kempen Capital Management in the UK.UniSuper, the A$60bn (€38bn) superannuation fund for Australia’s higher education and research sector, has launched Personal Accounts which will be open to members’ spouses and children, as well as immediate and extended family members. Members will have access to the same 16 investment options, including three dedicated Sustainability/Environmental investment options. It said it has been “thrilled ”by the level of interest in the new offerings.

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is appraising a $50m investment in an Africa renewable energy equity fund focusing on medium-sized projects (10-60 MW). The fund, managed by London-based emerging markets specialist New Sparta Asset Management will invest equity capital in 10-15 greenfield renewable power generation projects mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa. The EIB, which will now assess the fund’s capacity “to assess and monitor E&S impact and risks”, states that the fund’s investments will support the EIB’s climate action priority.

Paris-based asset manager Tobam has launched what is claimed to be Europe’s first Bitcoin fund, designed to offer qualified and institutional investors “exposure to the cryptocurrency in a more convenient and safer vehicle”.

The SUSI Energy Storage Fund managed by Zurich-based SUSI Partners has signed a financing facility with Canadian energy storage firm NRStor C&I for C$120m (€79m) of projects in Canada. The projects feature lithium-ion technology to provide services to commercial and industrial customers.

The European Development Fund (EDF), the European Commission’s development aid investment vehicle for Africa, has filed a tender – worth €3.6m – for “technical assistance” for its Ethiopia focused Civil Society Fund III, which aims to “increase participation of citizens and CSOs in the development and democratisation process of the country”. A contract notice for the fund is expected in December, with the overall budget of the programme estimated to stand at €16m.

The Environmental Rating Agency, the UK-based environmental risk ratings firm, and Organizational Maturity Services, an “organisational health” firm based in Bristol, have announced a “strategic partnership” to provide the “world’s first unified ratings that combine corporate governance and environmental performance with long-term business value”. The new product will reportedly “offers investors an additional means of viewing company performance beyond the traditional reliance on corporate self-reporting and credit risk ratings paid for by ratees”.