Responsible Funds, Oct. 28: SUSI Energy Storage, ethical Kiwisaver, Somalia infra, Mirova, Gabelli

The latest responsible funds news

The SUSI Energy Storage Fund I from Swiss-based Susi Partners has closed its first investment – participating in the financing of a portfolio of two energy storage projects in Ontario. The portfolio would enhance security of supply and enable the replacement of nuclear and fossil-fueled generation with clean renewable power sources, it said. The fund has a “tangible pipeline” of more than 400MWh of energy storage projects and SUSI said the fund is now open to institutional investors “looking to profit from diversification benefits and attractive risk-adjusted returns” from an emerging infrastructure asset class. The fund will be open for investors until the end of 2017 and has a capacity of up to €250m.

Vanguard is to provide KiwiSaver investors in New Zealand with an ethical investment option, according to reports. It follows revelations that some schemes were invested in cluster bomb, landmine and tobacco makers. The New Zealand Herald said US-based funds giant Vanguard has announced the launch of the Vanguard International Shares Select Exclusions Index with exclusions for tobacco companies, controversial weapons and nuclear weapons. The new offering – due to launch by year-end – would be open to wholesale investors in both New Zealand and Australia.

The African Development Bank is launching a fund to help Somalia improve its infrastructure after decades of civil war. The bank said the Somalia Infrastructure Fund, which was approved this month, is part of a “multi-partner initiative” to assist the country in consolidating peace and move “along a path of long-term development”. Initial seed financing comes from the UK’s Department for International Development and the Islamic Development Bank.

French bank Crédit Agricole says it has stopped financing new coal-fired power plant projects. “This means that no more new financing will be provided other than commitments already made,” it said in the run-up to the Climate Finance Day in Casablanca and COP22 in Marrakesh. This announcement is in addition to the commitments made by Crédit Agricole CIB, the Group’s corporate and investment banking arm, announced at the time of COP21, to structure €60bn of new climate finance before the end of 2018. As of September 30, €22.5bn of this target was achieved. Announcement

The $72m Gabelli ESG Fund has returned 10.3% in the year to the end of September, according to a new quarterly update (MSCI All Countries World Index: 5.6%/S&P 500: 7.8%). The fund, renamed from the Gabelli SRI Fund in May this year, is managed by co-CIOs Kevin Dreyer and Chris Marangi alongside Christopher Desmarais. It has environmental, alcohol, gambling and tobacco screens in place and does not invest in top defense contractors, fossil fuels or companies that make abortifacients, substances that induce abortion.Mirova’s green bond fund has more than doubled in size since inception two years ago, RI can reveal. The fund was launched in 2015 with €62m of investment, but has now reached €138m after a flurry of new clients – mainly from Europe – came on board over the summer, says the fund’s manager Chris Wigley. More commitments have been made and are expected to be invested by the end of the year, he added. The fund invests in labelled green bonds.

The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Millennium bcp, have signed a guarantee agreement aimed at supporting micro-enterprises in Portugal under the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI). It will cover a loan portfolio of €18m for around 900 “micro-borrowers”. The EIF will not provide direct financial support to enterprises but will implement the facility through local financial intermediaries, such as microfinance, social finance and guarantee institutions and banks.

The EIF has also supported Spanish biotechnology venture capital firm Ysios Capital. Ysios has announced the final closing of its second fund, Ysios BioFund II Innvierte FCR, raising a total of €126.4m. The fund will finance up to 15 early-stage and development phase companies with disruptive products, platforms or technologies that address unmet medical needs. Link

The $670m Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF), managed by Investec Asset Management, and Dutch development bank FMO have provided a $14.7m loan to enable the construction of a 10MW solar farm in Eastern Uganda. The EAIF is backed by the governments of UK, Switzerland, Sweden and The Netherlands. The Tororo Solar North PV project will serve an area heavily dependent on subsistence farming and with high unemployment.

UK-based Access – The Foundation for Social Investment and Social Investment Business has launched a £4m fund giving charities and social enterprises support to take on a loan. The Reach Fund involves a number of approved social investors who will refer organisations they want to invest in, but who are not yet ‘investment ready’. There will be 10 social investors or so-called ‘Access Points’ for the Reach Fund – Big Issue Invest, CAF Venturesome, Co-operative & Community Finance, FSE Group, Key Fund, Northstar Ventures, Resonance, Social and Sustainable Capital, Social Finance and Somerset Community Foundation.