Responsible Funds, October 25: Swedish bank SEB offers microfinance fund

The round-up of responsible funds news

SEB says it has become the first Swedish bank to offer a microfinance fund. It said some 20 institutional clients have invested in the fund, which will fund micro-loans to small businesses in South America, Africa and Asia. It will be run by Viktor Andersson, SEB’s Co-Head of ESG Analysis. Link (Swedish)

A new activist investment fund has been launched in the UK. The new Worsley Asset Management’s “deep value activist fund” vehicle, called Worsley Investors, will be managed by Blake Nixon and Max Lesser, the former co-heads of Guinness Peat Group’s UK investment operations. It has been seeded by Christopher Mills, co-founder and ex-investment director of JO Hambros who now runs Harwood Capital Management.

First State Stewart, the fund firm that’s part of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, has issued its third-quarter update of its Sustainability Strategies. For its Worldwide strategy, it initiated positions in American States Water and Vapores. The former is the fourth largest water utility in the US, “run by life-long utility managers seeking to achieve a sensible balance between fiscal responsibility and managing assets, water conservation and planning for the long-term.” A holding in Chile-based shipping firm Vapores has been initiated following a positive meeting with management – “backing the new, highly regarded owners at the bottom of the cycle in a required infrastructure company that makes a virtue of its sustainability positioning”.

The €43.1m Pictet European Sustainable Equities fund lagged its benchmark, the MSCI Europe Index, in the third quarter of 2013, according to fund documents. Most of the underperformance was due to the fund’s favoured prudent companies underperforming more volatile peers. Pictet said: “Our sustainable screening slightly detracted from performance, with more responsible companies lagging the market during the quarter.”Schroders’ $223m Global Climate Change Equity fund run by Simon Webber and Giles Money has returned 20.3% in the year to date (end-September) and 24.4% over a 12-month view, according to a new fund note. The fund, launched in 2007, aims to provide capital growth by investing in worldwide companies “which will benefit from efforts to accommodate or limit the impact of global climate change”.

Actis, the investor that was spun out of the UK’s development institution CDC nine years ago, is near the end of a $3bn fundraise for private equity, real estate and energy deals in emerging markets, the Financial Times reported citing senior partner Paul Fletcher.

The African Development Bank is making a US$12.5m equity investment in the Kibo Fund II, a Mauritius-based vehicle targeting the “underserved market of outward-looking small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and mid-market African firms, particularly in low-income and fragile states”. The fund, to be managed by Kibo Capital Partners, will primarily target the Indian Ocean Region. Announcement

A new forestry investment fund is being planned by FIM Services, the UK-based specialist which focuses on sustainable forestry and renewable energy with £550m under management. “Further details will be released in due course,” FIM said.

The $150.2m Global Responsible World Equity fund from Aberdeen Asset Management has returned 6.62% in the quarter to the end of September, against a benchmark (MSCI World) return of 8.29%. The fund aims for long-term total return by investing in equities selected on the basis of fundamental company analysis together with environmental, social and governance criteria.