Responsible Funds, September 9: Vanguard, Octopus, ABP, Chan-Zuckerberg fund, Ludgate Environmental

The latest responsible funds news

Vanguard says it will create new KiwiSaver funds for New Zealand investors that comply with investors’ concerns about owning companies involved in the production of cluster bombs, anti-personnel mines and nuclear weapons. The US asset manager added that it would need the KiwiSaver industry to agree on what should or should not be excluded, and agreed to suggestions that investing principles be aligned with those adopted by the New Zealand Superannuation Fund. New Zealand’s media had previously analysed the long-term savings system, currently worth NZ$28.5bn (€18bn), and found that scheme providers had included controversial stocks and industries in their allocations. Link.

India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF) will manage a $2bn fund that will back renewable energy projects, both old projects seeking re-financing and new projects, according to reports. Born out of last year’s Paris Climate Summit, the funding will be provided in part by the NIIF and the Indian Renewable Energy Development Authority, with $1bn sourced from sovereign funds. “The corpus has been doubled now, and apart from government-sponsored projects, anyone can apply,” said Upendra Tripathy, Secretary of New and Renewable Energy.

The Ludgate Environmental Fund Ltd has reported “disappointing” progress in the year ending 30 June 2016. The fund, which plans to wind-up by 2018, closed the year with a net asset value of £14,087,746, recording a net loss of £17,691,659, according to a filing. The share value fell from 60.6 pence in 2015 to 26.4 pence in 2016. The performance was attributed to a combination of assets being sold at below NAV and “weaker profitability” at investee companies, the filing said. Last year, shareholders of LEF rejected an offer from “an acquirer of secondary fund assets” which sought to buy part of the share capital on the basis that LEF would delist from AIM and restructure. The shareholders instead voted that the fund should sell its assets and distribute the proceeds.

The Energy, Food and Water Efficiency Index has licensed its first fund. The fund is managed by IFM and Novum Asset Management and will be distributed in Switzerland and Germany. The size was not disclosed. The EFW index was launched by Switzerland-based EFW Capital Advisors in 2014, and has been looking for a fund to license since last year. The firm seeks to promote natural resource management as a “fundamental necessity for corporate survival”. The index holdings include water, food and energy producers.UK fund manager Octopus Capital has made a significant investment into Reactive Technologies, a firm that specialises in building and developing the technology behind zero-carbon energy grids and integrating renewable energy sources. The funding is the largest that Reactive Technologies has received to date and will be included in Octopus’ £1.8bn energy generation portfolio.

A unanimous vote at the City of Sydney means the council will revamp its investment policy to favour “sustainable financial institutions” and avoid coal, oil and gas, according to reports in the Guardian. The council has more than A$500m under management, 56% of which is understood to be invested in Westpac, ANZ, National Australia Bank and Commonwealth Bank, which are reported to have financed the fossil-fuel sector to the tune of $5.5bn. The rest of its funds are in 15 other financial institutions. Sydney’s Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, told the Guardian: “We urgently need to reduce our greenhouse emissions and move away from fossil fuels to clean energy – but we are currently frustrated by the market offerings for green investments and the ability of smaller banks without loans to fossil fuel projects to accept more of our deposits.”

ABP, the Dutch civil service pension fund manager, has committed to investing €300m in start-up companies in its home country. Investments will be made through a INKEF Capital, a 15-year funding programme for new enterprises that ABP jointly founded in 2010 with Canada’s Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System. INKEF is currently investing in 16 start-up companies, including online florist Bloomon, sleep apnoea treatment NightBalance and 3D printing market Shapeways. Corien Wortmann-Kool, chair at the pension fund, said: “For ABP, it is important investments in the Netherlands provide jobs and economic development, alongside generating returns for our participants.”

Venture capital firms Sequoia, Sofina, Lightspeed and Times Internet, along with philanthropic fund the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, have participated in a $50m fundraising round from an Indian education technology provider, according to reports. Byju is a start-up launched last year, which operates an education app for children in the country. The Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative was established by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.