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RI Global news round-up 20/12/07

RI’s bite-sized round-up of the weeks’ responsible investment news

BNP Paribas Investment Partners, the French fund manager has bought an almost 30% holding in Impax, the London-based renewable energy funds specialist.
The French manager bought 31m shares from existing shareholders, corresponding to 28.3 percent of Impax’s issued ordinary shares.
BNP had previously held a 1.1% stake in Impax and the buy-in takes it up to 29.4%. The deal demonstrates increasing interest from mainstream fund managers in the fast-growing renewable energy, waste and water sector where Impax specialises. Impax recently announced a £100m fund-raising for a listed environmental fund. It now manages or advises over $2bn in assets for institutional and private investors, across a range of listed and private equity funds and has almost doubled assets in the space of two year. Under the deal, BNP Paribas will distribute in parts of Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, products that are managed or advised by Impax. Gilles Glicenstein, head of BNP Paribas Investment Partners, said: “We are convinced that this new step will reinforce our capacity to deliver state-of-the-art expertise in a fast growing market.”
The pension fund of Unison, the UK trades union, has hired Standard Life Investments for a £140m (€195m) socially responsible investment equity mandate.
 The portfolio will be run as an engagement overlay with60% invested in UK equities and 40% in overseas equities with performance targets of 2% per annum outperformance of the FTSE All Share and the MSCI World ex-UK index respectively. Julie McDowell, head of SRI at Standard Life Investments, said: “In this case, we are implementing specific screening criteria which exclude investment in tobacco and defence companies as well as companies that play a significant role in Private Finance Initiatives in the UK health and education sectors.
Unison is also keenly interested in engagement with companies on SRI issues, in particular on supporting principles and rights at work and these are all elements we are incorporating within their investment remit.”
Hermes Equity Ownership Services (EOS), the activist investment arm of the UK fund manager, is reportedly in early-stage discussions for development of an enhanced ethical product for institutional investors that have signed up to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI).
Colin Melvin, chief executive officer of EOS, told Thomson Investment Management News that he saw scope for the launch of a product that could assist signatories in incorporating environmental, social and governance factors into their investment policy under the guidelines of the UNPRI. About 250 institutions with assets worth $12 trillion have now signed up to the PRI.

ABP, the €218bn Dutch civil service pension will expand its cooperation with a number of other European pension funds, to create new environmental, social and governance (ESG) partnerships, reports ipe.com.
Roderick Munsters, ABP chief investment officer said the fund is talking with large European institutional investors and pension funds to create innovative socially-responsible investment opportunities.
Earlier this year, ABP teamed up with PGGM, the €88bn Dutch fund, to invest €500m in clean technology as well as a combined €200m investment in a new fund in wind energy and biomass. ABP is also co-funding the Dutch expansion of the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a global standardised mechanism by which companies report their greenhouse gas emissions.Barclays Capital, the investment banking arm of the UK bank, has launched a carbon index to track the performance of credits issued through the world’s major carbon trading schemes, including the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).
The bank said the Barclays Capital Global Carbon Index would provide a benchmark for investors to assess the performance of their investments in carbon credits. Investors buying Certified Emission Reductions (CERs), carbon credits given for projects in developing countries, currently have to assess performance against the initial price paid for the credits. The index will allow them to also measure performance against the market.