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Responsible Funds, September 19: Robeco plots ESG fund expansion in Japan

The round-up of responsible funds news

Netherlands-based asset manager Robeco Groep says it plans to set up “full-scale operations” and expand its business in Japan – where it will offer funds that integrate Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors into equity and bond analysis. Robeco, now owned by Japanese financial group ORIX, believes this approach leads to “better-informed investment decisions, mitigates risk and provides long-term investment opportunities”. Robeco Japan aims to have over €5bn assets under management in the next five years.

AXA Investment Managers has launched what it calls the first fully integrated ‘ESG SmartBeta Strategy’ in the Australian market. AXA director of investment strategy, Kathryn McDonald said: “Our extensive research shows ESG smart beta can offer investors a lower risk and higher return than index investing, along with a defensive strategy with improved diversification and ESG performance – an attractive concept for long term investors.” The product has been seeded with A$55m from local Australian Financial Services Licensee, Financial Index Wealth Accountants (FIWA).

BNP Paribas Wealth Management has announced that as of June of this year it had reached over €3bn in sustainable and responsible investments. It has said there is an emerging spontaneous demand for SRI products, when a few years ago potential SRI clients had to be identified. Link

The SUSI Renewable Energy Fund II from Zurich-based investment firm SUSI Partners has been involved with structuring a 53MW French solar photovoltaic investment. Co-developed by clean energy firm Altus Energy and France-based engineering and consulting firm Solaïs, the latest deal brings the capacity developed by the partnership to 92MW. SUSI’s Chief Investment Officer Otto von Troschke said: “This investment is a great start for the SUSI Renewable Energy Fund II. The two portfolios now represent approximately 10% of the estimated newly constructed solar power plants in France in 2014.”Morgan Stanley’s wealth management unit has launched two new funds on its so-called “Investing with Impact Platform,” including an equity product and a balanced product. According to the US bank, the new sustainable funds will rely both on sector exclusion as well as integration of ESG (environmental, social and governance) factors without sacrificing performance. The bank said that with the addition of the two funds, the impact platform provided more than 100 products and portfolio solutions “which have been evaluated for their competitive return potential as well as positive societal impact.” Morgan Stanley created the platform three years ago as part of a broader move into sustainable finance. By 2018, the bank aims to take in $10bn in client assets with the platform.

The World Bank’s IFC arm is planning to launch a Mexico Fund. The IFC Asset Management Company, which has more than $6bn under management, has released a job recruitment ad seeking a head for the Mexico City-based vehicle. “This role requires substantial investing experience and superior management, financial, interpersonal and client skills,” the ad states.

The Swedish government reportedly plans to announce some $14m of funding for a new body to provide grants and expertise to help indigenous peoples and forest communities secure rights to their land. The International Land and Forest Tenure Facility will be unveiled at the at the UN climate summit in New York and become operational from 2016, Reuters reported, citing Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, head of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

UK-based boutique firm Alquity Investments has launched a fund to capture socially responsible investment opportunities in emerging and frontier markets. Citywire reported that the Luxembourg-domiciled Alquity Future World fund will invest across Africa, Asia, Latin America and South Asia. Based on a three-pillar, ‘virtuous circle’ approach, the fund will be run by Roberto Lampl. He is head of Latin America investments and a former head of global emerging market equities at Barings Asset Management.