Responsible Funds, Sept. 4: ACTIAM, Triodos, Trillium, Australian Ethical, Old Mutual

The round-up of the latest responsible funds news

ACTIAM, the Netherlands-based responsible asset and fund manager with €51bn under management, has launched four responsible index tracker funds for retail investors. Trading in the funds, which go by the name of ACTIAM Verantwoorde Index Aandelenfondsen (Dutch acronym: AVIAs), begun on August 28. Rabobank and Staalbankiers will be the first to add the AVIAs to their product offering. The funds are run via strict principles relating to human rights, fundamental labour rights, corruption, the environment, weapons and client and product integrity.

Trillium Asset Management, the Boston-based socially responsible investor, has launched a new fund for institutions that invests in companies with a market capitalization of $10bn (€8.9bn) or lower. In a statement, Trillium said its Small/Mid-Cap Core Fund targeted firms that had good growth prospects and were undervalued. Along with these financial metrics, the fund selects companies according to their performance on ESG issues.

Triodos’s total assets under management, comprising Triodos Bank, Triodos Investment Funds and Triodos Private Banking, have risen by 8% to €11.5bn as at the end of the first half of 2015. In its latest half-yearly report, the Dutch-based sustainable bank said its balance sheet has risen 8% to €7.7bn. Triodos Bank became the first pan-European bank to be certified as a B Corporation. The Triodos Sustainable Funds (Triodos SICAV I), which grew by 19% during the first half of 2015.

The introduction of ‘social pension funds’ could help finance projects such as social housing, rehabilitation initiatives and environmental schemes, according to a new report from the Social Market Foundation and Big Society Capital in the UK. They have jointly published Good Pensions: Introducing social pension funds to the UK – arguing that there’s huge potential for social investment from pension funds. Link

SolarCity, the Nasdaq-listed solar firm where Elon Musk is chairman, has reportedly set up a new $400 million solar fund with an unnamed “large financial institution” to support distributed solar projects in the US. It means the firm has the funds to finance over $9 billion in solar PV projects, PV Magazine reported.Assets under management at Australian Ethical, the Sydney-based SRI fund specialist, have risen 32% to A$1.17bn (€733m), according to its latest shareholder update. There were net inflows of $179m (up 96%). “We are living proof that businesses and investment funds can operate to give consideration to social and environmental factors as well as financial returns and deliver on each equally as well,” the company said. Net profit after tax for year to June 30 slipped 23% to $1.97m from $2.54m while revenues were up 6% at $21.2m. Link

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is considering a €25m investment in a solar fund that targets projects in countries which are not members of the OECD. The fund has been launched by Italy’s Solar Ventures and, according to the EIB, expects to invest in 15 to 20 projects in non-OECD countries. These projects should have an average photovoltaic (PV) capacity of between 25 and 30MW, the EIB said.

African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM), an affiliate of South Africa’s Old Mutual and Australian investment bank Macquarie, has teamed up with a French firm to develop small hydropower plants in Africa. According to news reports, AIIM and France’s Mecamidi are investing $500m (€449m) to have 200MW of new hydropower capacity installed by 2020. The plants are to be built in Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea and Mozambique among other countries. The reports also said AIIM’s portfolio of power plants had a total capacity of 1GW.

Future Super, an Australian firm that offers fossil free investing of pension savings, has partnered with news and data giant Thomson Reuters to launch two stock indices that they say are the first of their kind in Australia. In a statement, the duo said the indices were novel in that the underlying companies were not active in the fossil fuel sector and ranked highly in terms of ESG issues. The duo also said both indices were based on the Thomson Reuters Australia Index, which comprises 300 companies listed on the Australian Securities Index (ASX). Companies are then screened according to a proprietary Future Super research process, which includes Thomson Reuters ESG services as a primary data source.