Responsible Funds, Oct. 7: SUSI Partners, ‘poverty premium’, BNP Paribas, SEB, Pictet

The round-up of the latest responsible funds news

Swiss specialist SUSI Partners says its SUSI Renewable Energy Fund II has had a final close at €380m – with investments of over €100m from an unnamed Dutch pension fund. The European Investment Bank contributed €62m and SUSI added: “Further investments have been placed through SUSI’s new registered bond solution.” The portfolio of the fund, who saw first closing in Spring 2015, now comprises investments of over €115m in 14 wind and solar farms (closed or signed) in Germany, France, Finland, the UK, Portugal and Italy, delivering a total output of over 210 MW of clean energy. The new offering succeeds SUSI’s €200m Renewable Energy Fund I.

UK-based social investor Big Society Capital and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation are seeking a fund manager to help it create products to tackle the ‘poverty premium’. The poverty premium is often dubbed the ‘double penalty’: in addition to not being able to buy many goods and services, people in poverty also end up paying more for the ones they can buy, like banking services. To address this BSC and Joseph Rowntree have partnered on the ‘Fair by Design – Making Life Affordable’ programme that will include raising up to £20m of social investment to tackle the ‘poverty premium’.

SEB Investment Management has had a second closing of its SEB Microfinance Fund IV, raising just over SEK1.6bn (€0.2bn). The investor base is mainly institutional investors based in Sweden, Finland and Denmark. SEB Investment Management has around SEK4bn asset under management across four microfinance funds.

Harvard’s new Campus Sustainability Innovation Fund supports projects that use the campus or the neighboring community as a test bed for envisioning and piloting innovative solutions to sustainability challenges, including, but not limited to, climate and health. Projects must map directly to at least one of the goals, standards, or commitments in the Harvard Sustainability Plan, organized around the five core topics of emissions and energy, health and well-being, campus operations, nature and ecosystems, and culture and learning.

Boston-based Green Century Capital Management has launched the Green Century MSCI International Index Fund. Green Century says it is the first diversified and responsible fossil free index available to US investors. It will invest in large and mid-cap stocks from Europe, parts of Asia, Australia and Canada. The Fund will invest in stocks included in the MSCI World ex USA SRI ex Fossil Fuels Index; a custom index calculated by MSCI, Inc., Northern Trust Investments will serve as the subadvisor for the Fund.BNP Paribas Investment Partners has completed the €500m final close of the a new European small and medium enterprise debt fund. It said the BNP Paribas European SME Debt Fund attracted a “range of leading European institutional investors” including AG2R La Mondiale, BNP Paribas Cardif, CNP Assurances, l’ERAFP, Federal Finance Gestion (on behalf of Suravenir), La France Mutualiste, Groupama, MACIF, MAIF, Pensio B OFP and the BNP Paribas Group, as well as the European Investment Fund. A feature is that, with a focus on long term financing, the fund is not only “complementary to traditional bank loans” but also benefits from European Long Term Investment Fund (‘ELTIF’) status.

Swiss-based Pictet Asset Management has launched the Global Thematic Opportunities fund to add to its $16bn thematic equity franchise. The new fund is a concentrated portfolio of the best ideas from its thematic equity fund managers. The range focus on megatrends, defined as a “set of powerful social, demographic, environmental and technological forces of change that are reshaping our world”. The new offering is aimed at institutional investors and managed by Gertjan van Der Geer, Senior Investment Manager and Hans-Peter Portner, Head of Thematic equities.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC) – [the IDB Group] have unveiled NDC Invest, “a one-stop shop” to help countries access resources needed to translate national climate commitments into investment plans and bankable projects. The platform comprises four elements: NDC Programmer, NDC Pipeline Accelerator, NDC Market Booster and NDC Finance Mobilizer. “Together, the components aim to enable progress toward both the NDC and IDB lending objectives, as well as toward achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” a statement said.

Austin, Texas-based asset management firm Sage Advisory, which more than $12bn under management, is reportedly using research from Sustainalytics and Morningstar for a new range of environmental, social and governance (ESG) exchange traded funds. Institutional Investor quoted company co-founder and CIO Bob Smith as saying the development was “internally driven”. He was quoted adding: “We have three Millennials on the team and it fits with them and how they see the world. It’s a generational issue.”