Responsible Funds, October 17: Asia Climate Partners on track for $750m final close

the round-up of responsible funds news

Asia Climate Partners (ACP) the Hong Kong-based private equity renewables partnership, is understood to be on track to meet its target final close of $750m before the end of November. The fund has already had commitments of $400m from its ORIX Corporation, the Japan-based financial conglomerate and parent of Robeco, the Asian Development Bank and the UK government, as it nears a first close. The fund, which aims to raise a maximum close total of $1bn will be one of the biggest renewables funds investing in the region if successful. People familiar with the fund say it is already looking at $100-$150m of equity deals in the region. Robeco, with €211bn under management, which was majority acquired by ORIX in 2013, is the investment manager for the new venture while ORIX and ADB provide support and advisory services. The fund will employ a private equity, mid-market growth strategy, buying companies that have grown out of start-up phase and are looking for development financing to take them to listing or trade sale. ACP is working with Chandran Nair, Founder and CEO of the Global Institute for Tomorrow and a regular speaker at the World Economic Forum, where he is a member of the Global Agenda Council on Governance for Sustainability.

The Ecosystem Integrity Fund (EIF), the San Francisco-based sustainability-focused venture capital firm, has led a $5m series B funding round for Seattle-based OneEnergy Renewables, which develops distributed, utility-scale solar photovoltaic projects. New investor EIF had additional support from existing investors, including members of the Seattle-based cleantech angel group, Element 8. EIF partner Devin Whatley joins the OneEnergy board.

Generation Investment Management, the UK sustainable boutique, has posted big increases in earnings and revenue for last year. According to Dow Jones’ Financial News, profits rose 52% to £39.7m (€49.8m) in 2013 from £26.1m in 2012. Revenue was up by a fifth to £59.9m from £50.1m in 2012 as the firm posted gains in performance and management fees. “We are pleased that our approach to investing over the long term, aligning our interests with those of our clients, and integrating sustainability research into our process continues to drive investment performance across the firm,” FN quoted Generation as saying. Generation was founded a decade ago by ex-US Vice President Al Gore and David Blood, the former Head of Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

Funds managed by the Foresight Group, the infrastructure and private equity investment firm, have signed a share purchase agreement to buy New York-listed solar photovoltaic firm Trina Solar’s 10.6MW plant in Trehawke in Cornwall in western England. It’s the first of two Trina Solar UK projects that connected to the grid in the first quarter of this year. Foresight has £1bn under management from UK and international private and high net-worth individuals, family offices, pension funds and other institutional investors. Link*Impact Ventures UK (IVUK), the social impact fund* set up by Berenberg in association with LGT Venture Philanthropy, has invested £1m in digital mental healthcare provider Big White Wall. IVUK lead the fundraising, which saw Big White Wall secure a total of £4.4m in its first external round of capital raising. Big White Wall, founded by social entrepreneur Jen Hyatt, delivers personalised support and recovery pathways to improve mental health.

John Laing Environmental Assets Group, the listed UK green infrastructure investor, has obtained a £50m (€62.8m) loan from HSBC Holdings and NIBC Bank. The revolving credit facility will be used to buy projects that include solar and wind power plants as well as waste and water processing facilities. “It’s a useful tool to allow the fund to act swiftly to make bids for suitable assets in the active secondary environmental infrastructure market,” said chairman Richard Morse.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a €10m equity investment in the African compartment of the Moringa Private Equity Fund. Moringa will invest in agroforestry projects in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America that combine plantation forestry (producing biomass, fuel wood or timber) with agricultural elements. The fund is sponsored by La Compagnie Benjamin de Rothschild (CBR) and ONF International (ONFI), the international subsidiary of the French Office National des Forêts.

The AfDB also said that the €33m ClimDev-Africa Special Fund (CDSF) that was implemented in August is now “ready to support the first cohort of climate change operations”. The bank announced the launch of the first Call for Proposal at an event in Marrakech earlier this month.

Renewable Energy Generation (REG), the AIM-listed renewable energy group, has sold two wind farm projects to a fund managed by BlackRock for a total £36m. Under the terms of the sale of the 10MW St.Breock and 8MW Ramsey II projects, BlackRock will assume project debts of £21m. Construction funding will continue to be drawn from the existing project finance facility with ING Bank. REG will oversee construction of the projects and will operate them on behalf of BlackRock.

Sustainalytics has reported that last month, its Jantzi Social Index (JSI) decreased in value, but that the decline was less than that for Canada’s benchmark equity indices. In a statement, Sustainalytics said the 60-member JSI was down 2.76% in September, compared with declines of 3.99% for the S&P/TSX Composite Index and of 3.52% for the S&P/TSX 60. The ESG firm also said that since inception in January 2000, the JSI had gained 6.77% annually, compared with 6.46% for the S&P/TSX Composite and 6.27% for the S&P/TSX 60. Link