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Responsible Funds, April 5: Norway appoints committee to review oil fund’s ethics guidelines

The latest responsible funds news

The Norwegian government has appointed a committee to review the ethical guidelines for observation and exclusion from the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG). The Committee will be chaired by Professor Ola Mestad, the Oslo University professor who is a former chair of the fund’s Council on Ethics. The government – which today also allowed the fund to be invested in unlisted renewable energy infrastructure under its dedicated environmental mandates – said things had moved on since the ethical guidelines for the GPFG were introduced in 2004. The committee will assess whether there is a need for amending the guidelines for observation and exclusion, including whether some criteria should be omitted or new ones added. It will report by June 15 2020.

Norway’s Storebrand Asset Management – part of a group that traces its history back to Denmark in 1767 — has today entered the Danish market with five equity funds, which will “aim to raise awareness about sustainable investments, index investments and multifactor funds in the Danish market”.

Aegon Asset Management has unveiled a Sustainable Fixed Income strategy. Using a proprietary sustainability research framework, the strategy identifies investment opportunities within corporate credit, structured securities and sovereign bonds across six key sustainability pillars—climate change, eco solutions, resource efficiency, health and well-being, inclusion and sustainable growth. The strategy also aims to contribute to the SDGs.

Mirova, the Natixis affiliate specialising in responsible investment, has launched an equity fund which will invest in companies with good track records in gender equality and women representation among management. The Mirova Women Leaders Equity Fund will be aligned to the Paris Agreement, like all of Mirova’s products.

S&P Global Ratings has given a Green Evaluation score of E1/85 – the highest score on the E1-E4 scale – to loan facilities for Ence Energía totalling €109.6m. Ence Energía, a Spanish biomass company, seeking to raise €109.6m in three tranches of bank loans to acquire a 90% stake in a 50-megawatt (MW) solar thermal plant located in Spain (currently owned by Iberdrola).

Baillie Gifford, the UK-based fund firm, has launched a sustainable fund which will exclude tobacco, alcohol and armaments stock and invest in stock adhering to the UN Global Compact. The Responsible Global Equity Income will be seeded by £50m (€58m) from existing Baillie Gifford investors and will be managed by Toby Ross and James Dow, who also manages the Baillie Gifford Global Income Growth fund.

Switzerland-based banking group REYL Group says is launching a new investment product, REYL Impact Investing Global Equities, an international equity AMC [asset management company] “enabling investors to engage in responsible and sustainable investing”. It said: “In order to satisfy the growing demand from clients, the Bank is planning to launch other impact-investing products soon, notably in fixed-income and private equity.” It follows the recruitment of Nicolas Pelletier, who is in charge of socially responsible investing at Reyl & Cie. The new REYL Impact Investing Global Equities certificate was launched on March 8.The Swedish Pensions Agency has launched a number of tools to ease the selection of sustainable options in the premium pensions segment on its website. Savers will be able to screen out funds investing in up to 12 areas which include tobacco, weapons and fossil fuels and compare funds on sustainability based on a sustainability ranking of 1-100.

Netherlands-based NN Investment Partners has launched a short-duration green bond fund, which it says “will be ideally suited to investors who want to protect their portfolio against rising interest rates and at the same time continue to act urgently on climate change”. NN IP says it is the largest market participant in terms of open-ended green bond funds and is close to reaching the €1bn mark after less than three years.

ERAFP, the €30bn pension scheme for French civil servants, is looking for investment managers for an office real estate mandate. In the contract notice, the 100% SRI pension fund states that the contract will run for 48 months.

Luxembourg’s LuxFLAG has awarded new labels to 15 investment funds, meaning that it now labels 117 investment products in total. The ESG Label has been awarded to eight funds while the ESG Applicant Fund Status has been granted to seven funds. See more here.

BlackRock’s new private equity vehicle Long Term Private Capital, aiming to take long-term positions in private companies, has had $2.75bn of commitments from institutional clients. Announcement

Investors within the Munich Re group, the Austrian insurance company UNIQA and an unnamed European insurance group have purchased “a lower three-digit million euro amount” of project bonds to finance the wind farms Skinansfjellet und Gravdal in Norway. Germany-based asset manager Luxcara acquired the wind farms in 2016 and has a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) with Facebook

Morningstar has singled out State Street’s SHE Fund – a gender diversity fund – for its poor voting record on gender and diversity resolutions. The investment data provider said that SHE – which failed to support 8 out of 10 gender and diversity resolutions – “is evidence that a fund can state an ESG-focused investment objective but can also then vote in opposition on relevant shareholder resolutions.” Link

Achmea has announced that it is the first Dutch insurer with a sustainable credit facility after closing a €1bn revolving credit facility (RCF) with 12 banks. The RCF has maturity of 10 years with the option of two extensions for a period of one year each.

The Church Pension Fund (CPF), which services the Episcopal Church in the US, has announced a $40m investment in the New Energy Capital Infrastructure Fund, managed by New Energy Capital. The fund supports clean energy infrastructure assets throughout North America.