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Responsible Funds, Sept. 28: TIAA-CREF launches ESG bond fund

The round-up of responsible funds news

TIAACREF, the $481bn (€372.3bn) US investment giant, has launched an actively managed, socially responsible, fixed-income mutual fund called the Social Choice Bond Fund. It enable clients to “align their investments with their values”, giving consideration to environmental, social and governance guidelines. The fund, benchmarked against the Barclays US Aggregate Bond Index, will target 10% of its investments to “proactive social investments” such as affordable housing, community and economic development, renewable energy and climate change, and natural resources. The fund will be run by portfolio manager Stephen Liberatore. Announcement

CDC Enterprises, the private equity arm of French state investor Caisse des Dépôts, says its timber fund (Fonds Bois) has financed two new companies for a total of €4.5m. It has put €3m into Bois & Sciages to support its investment program. It has also subscribed €1.5m to a convertible bond issue by Scierie de Savoie Lapierre & Martin, for the modernization of its production.

French environmental fund firm Demeter Partners has announced the closing of its Demeter 3 Amorçage [seed] fund. It has the backing of the Fonds National d’Amorçage, the European Investment Fund, Suez Environnement-Blue Orange, Air Liquide and IFP Energies Nouvelles. The fund focuses on young companies developing technologies in the eco-industries and eco-energies sectors.

Ökoworld, the Luxemburg-based sustainable fund boutique, has launched a new fund that invests in equities from emerging markets that meet its sustainable criteria. Ökoworld said its “Growing Markets 2.0” fund had started with €8.1m in seed money. The fund will be targeted to both private clients and institutional investors, notably banks, fund-of-funds and family offices. Ökoworld has €483m in assets under management.Hermes Fund Managers, the asset manager owned by the BT Pension Scheme, has launched a UCITS fund focused on US small and mid-cap equities. The Hermes US SMID Equity Fund will be managed by a team of four led by Robert Anstey. The fund will invest in companies over the long term, with an average holding period of three to five years and be benchmarked against the Russell 2500 Index.

SUSI Partners AG, the Swiss environmental investment advisor, has teamed up with Dutch energy group Eneco to cooperate in buying photovoltaic (PV) assets in France and Belgium over the next 18 months. Under the deal, SUSI plans to increase the PV holdings in its Luxembourg-domiciled SUSI Sustainable Euro Fund I. SUSI board member, and former Deutsche Telekom CEO, Kai-Uwe Ricke said: “Renewable energy and other sustainable energy infrastructures are largely being commercialized and integrated into our society, and are continuing to be sought after by both financial and strategic investors.”

The €44.61m Dexia Sustainable World sicav has returned 10.19% in the year to the end of August, according to fund documents. It is up 20.2% over a 12-month period. This compares to benchmark (MSCI World) returns of 11.4% and 20.64% respectively. Since inception it has returned a cumulative 17.13%. The fund, a subfund of the Dexia Sustainable sicav, invests globally in the stocks of the best companies within each sector which most successfully integrate environmental, social and governance concerns.

A new study from Frankfurt-based AfU Investor Research GmbH and Swiss firm RepRisk AG has come up with a new way to assessing the sustainability of investment funds. They found that conventional funds, with no claim to being sustainable, perform similarly to sustainable funds that incorporate ESG criteria. The study looked at a total of 166 European funds and identified 13 that explicitly incorporated sustainability factors. Link