Responsible Funds, Oct. 16: Energy Impact Partners, SUSI Partners, Etica Srg, BlackRock, LuxFLAG

The round-up of responsible funds news

A new fund focused on investments that seek to “optimize energy consumption and improve sustainable energy generation” has been launched by a firm called Energy Impact Partners LLC (EIP). The fund’s first closing includes investments from energy industry leaders Southern Company, National Grid and Xcel Energy as limited partners. EIP says it will work with its investors to adapt strategy to a “changing energy landscape”. Based in New York and San Francisco, EIP is led by a team who developed the strategic technology investment business at General Electric.

SUSI Partners, the Zurich-based asset manager, says its Energy Efficiency Fund has invested near €33m in energy-efficient lighting projects to be done for companies and public institutions in Italy. According to SUSI, the projects will be handled by the Beghelli Group, an Italian firm which specialises in emergency and energy-efficient lighting. “Our involvement in this deal follows the core principles of our business – namely reducing carbon emissions from standing infrastructure while generate stable, long-term returns,” said SUSI Chief Executive Tobias Reichmuth. SUSI’s Energy Efficiency Fund is currently looking for investment opportunities after taking in €250m in assets from investors.

Etica Srg, a Milan-based socially responsible investor, has launched a new sustainable balanced fund for the Italian retail market. According to Citywire, the new fund is called ‘Etica Rendita Bilanciata’ and invests up to 40% of its assets in equities. The rest is put in fixed income, including an allocation of up to 10% to corporate debt. Sectors that are excluded outright include tobacco, gambling weapons, oil, mining and nuclear power. While Etica is handling the fund’s selections according to its sustainable criteria, Citywire said another company, Anima, managed the fund’s portfolio.

Four investment companies, including an affiliate of French development bank Caisse des Dépôts (Bpifrance) and a vehicle tied to the Peugeot family group (FFP), are investing around €200m in Paris-based renewable energy firm EREN. In a statement, EREN said they had advanced half of the new capital, adding that the other half would be available by 2017. Apart from Bpifrance and FFP, the other two investors are venture capital firm Next World and Salvepar, a listed private equity firm. Founded in 2012, EREN says it has owns and operates renewable assets with 240MW of net capacity. That figure is to grow to 2GW by 2020.BlackRock has launched its first impact investment product, the BlackRock Impact US Equity Fund that will aim to invest equity in companies targeting competitive market returns and aggregate social impact outcomes. The fund will score companies against three societal impact outcome areas: health, the environment and corporate citizenship, and screen out certain industries, including alcohol, tobacco and weapon manufacturers. Announcement

LuxFLAG, the Luxembourg-based sustainable labelling scheme for investment funds, says four new products have qualified for its ESG label. Two of the four new funds are NN Investment Partners’ Global Sustainable Equity product and its European Sustainable Equity product. The other two funds are FDC’s SICAV Actions Monde and MAM Human Values FCP from French asset manager Meeschaert. LuxFLAG also said its labels had been renewed for another 14 investment funds. As a result, three of the group may continue to use its ESG Label, one its Environment Label and another ten its Microfinance Label. All told, LuxFLAG has provided 43 funds with its label.

Impax Asset Management, which is listed on London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM), has reported inflows of £77 million (€104.3m) for the first nine months of 2015. In a its latest trading update, Impax also said that including the inflows, assets under management on September 30 stood at £2.8bn. Yet because of the recent volatility in equity markets, the volume figure was just 2% higher from one year ago. “We are making strong progress with the development of both our renewable infrastructure and sustainable property strategies, where we continue to return money to investors from our existing funds and are implementing plans to raise new monies,” said Impax CEO Ian Simm.

German renewable fund provider CHORUS Clean Energy has completed its initial public offering (IPO), selling 12.15m of its shares on Frankfurt’s stock exchange to raise €119m in fresh capital. CHORUS’ shares were priced at €9.75 apiece, yielding a market capitalisation of near €300m. On its first day of trading (October 7), the CHORUS share rose to almost €10, but has since declined to €9.20. Based near Munich, CHORUS offers renewable funds for institutional investors. Its funds are invested in 67 wind and solar assets that can generate up to 250MW worth of clean power.