Responsible Funds, November 30: BNP Paribas AM plans China ESG fund

The latest responsible funds news

BNP Paribas Asset Management is planning to launch its first ever fund for the Chinese onshore market – and it will be an ESG-focused vehicle. Speaking to journalists in Hong Kong today, CEO of the firm’s APAC arm, Ligia Torres, said it was planning to establish a regional version of its existing Aqua Fund in Europe, having secured a license to serve onshore clients in China. The European fund is focused on equity investments into “companies that meet non-financial criteria relating to socially responsible management, and linked to the water sector”. It is run with Impax. The new product is due to be launched in the first quarter of next year. Torres described sustainability as one of two priorities for BNP Paribas APAC, alongside broader product “solutions”.

M&G Investments has launched a global equity impact fund with exposure to six areas: climate solutions, clean air, water and land, the circular economy, health and labour rights, and social equality. The portfolio will consist of 40 stocks and is benchmarked against the MSCI All Countries World index. The fund utilises the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a framework to analyse investment impact.

Fidelity International has launched a fund with exposure to the water and waste sectors. The fund aims to capitalise on urbanisation trends, with 70% of the world’s population estimated to be living in cities by 2050. The increasing demand for waste and water management is expected to drive long-term growth of the sectors. The fund will be managed by Bertrand Lecourt, a recent hire from Polar Capital.

ETFGI, the exchange traded fund (ETF) consultancy headed by Deborah Fuhr, has reported that ESG ETFs and exchange traded product assets were valued at $21.9bn as at October 2018.

RobecoSAM, the Swiss ESG specialists, will reportedly merge the RobecoSAM Sustainable Global Equities strategy into their Global Sustainable Impact Equities strategy after finding the investment policies of the two differed only slightly. The new fund is to be renamed the RobecoSAM Global SDG Equities funds and will invest according to a new, SDG-compliant policy. RobecoSAM also announced the liquidation of its Global Child Impact Equities fund after a lukewarm investor response.

Zurich-based index provider Stoxx has launched the Stoxx Europe 600 ESG-X Index, a sustainability-focused version of the Stoxx Europe 600 benchmark. It uses Sustainalytics research to screen for controversial weapons, tobacco and thermal coal.Creas Impacto, Spain’s first institutional social impact fund, will receive €10m from the European Investment Fund (EIF), part of the European Commission’s Investment Plan for Europe – dubbed the Juncker Plan. Creas Impacto’s total target fund size is €30m and its first closing has reached €16m. The EIF also plans to invest €3m in Equity4Good, an investment vehicle run by Barcelona-based foundation Ship2B which supports start-ups.

The Vontobel Clean Technology Fund has started building up a position in Murata Manufacturing, a world leader in multi-layer ceramic capacitors (MLCCs), which are used in almost all electronic devices. “Furthermore,” the fund said in a monthly report, “we added to NVent Electric, a leader in electrical protection, enclosures and fastening solutions for industry, commercial and infrastructure applications.” It has sold its stake in polysilicon manufacturer Wacker Chemie.

UK pension pool Brunel Pension Partnership has developed an ‘accord’ to help its relationships with its external fund managers, according to a report in Top1000 Funds. The Brunel Asset Management Accord will outline expectations around the partnership.

Sydinvest, a Danish investor, has launched a Morningstar tracker fund for investors aiming to invest in the world’s most sustainable companies. The fund will aim to approximate as closely as possible the composition of investments according to the Morningstar sustainability index family and will have a management fee of 50 basis points. The strategy aims to return 7% annually, in line with Sydinvest’s other equity strategies.

Morgan Stanley has a new research report on whether the sustainability of fashion could become an investment risk after seven clothing retailers appeared recently in front of the UK Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee on the issue of child labour, minimum wages, microfibers, sustainable fabrics, textile recycling and durable fashion. The report highlights risks such as regulatory involvement if companies don’t improve or changes in consumer attitudes with growing awareness of the environmental impact of ‘fast fashion’.

The National Trust, the UK conservation body, has “tens of millions of pounds” invested in extractives, a Guardian investigation has found. This is despite an earlier commitment by the trust to cut down on the use of fossil fuels across its estates in response to climate change, and a commitment to increase renewable energy utilisation to 50% by 2020. The trust opposes fracking on the grounds that “natural gas is a fossil gas”, although the report revealed holdings in BP and Shell, both of which have fracking operations.