RI People & Appointments, March 9: Mercer, Climate Change Capital, Prudential, F&C

The latest ESG movers and shakers

Alex Bernhardt has joined consulting firm Mercer as a senior responsible investment consultant to lead its responsible investment team in the US market. He takes over from Craig Metrick, who left to join Cornerstone Capital in September last year. Previously, Berhhardt was a senior vice president at Mercer’s sister firm Guy Carpenter, where he founded and ran the firm’s division focused on micro(re)insurance programmes. While at Guy Carpenter, he also contributed to Mercer’s forthcoming Strategic Asset Allocation in a Time of Climate Change report. Jane Ambachtsheer, global head of responsible investment at Mercer, said: “Alex’s knowledge of the impacts of catastrophes and climate change and his strong background in financial risk management will be invaluable to investors looking to integrate ESG factors into their investment processes.”

Climate Change Capital’s private equity fund management team is reportedly spinning out from the group, now part of New York-listed Bunge Ltd., to form Adaxia Capital Partners. The team headed by Alex Betts, Simon Drury and Bruno Derungs, will continue to manage the €200m fund set up in 2007, which is backed by major investors such as Alpinvest, Robeco, USS and Alliance Trust. The Adaxia senior investment team also includes Thomas Skovbjerg, James Hook, Franco Hauri and Jeremy Gough.

David Walker has been named Investment Director at F&C Private Equity Funds. He joins F&C, now part of BMO Global Asset Management, from the European Investment Bank (EIB) in Luxembourg, where he was Head of Infrastructure Funds and previously Deputy Head of Equity Funds at the European Investment Fund (EIF). He returns to his native Edinburgh, where he will join the eight-strong F&C Private Equity Funds team, reporting to Hamish Mair. He will be covering European funds, co-investments and renewables investments.

Rolf Hässler, the former Head of Communications at German ESG firm Oekom research, has launched his own sustainable investment consultancy, called the ‘Institut für Nachhaltige Kapitalanlagen (NK-Institut).’ According to Hässler, who says starting his own firm has been a dream of his for some time, NK-Institut’s main focus will be to advise asset managers and asset owners in Germany on how to invest sustainably. NK-Institut also will provide the latest sustainable investment data and analysis to Germany’s institutional market. Home page

Pete Dignan has been named to the new role of President and Chief Operating Officer at Boulder-based Renewable Choice Energy, a company founded in 2001 that helps companies with green power. He is the former Executive Director for the non-profit Connected Organizations for a Responsible Economy (CORE); he also serves on the Sustainability Advisory Committee for Eco-Products in Boulder and on the Colorado B Corp Advisory Council. Announcement*In case you missed it: Vicki Benjamin* has been named as Chief Financial Officer of Calvert Investments, the US-based socially responsible funds firm with $13.6bn under management. She is a former Senior Partner and Director at KPMG in Boston; prior to that, she was Chief Accounting Offer/Controller at Columbia Management (formerly Liberty Financial). She takes over from company veteran Ronald Wolfsheimer, who has retired.

Prudential Agricultural Investments (PAI) has named three new principals. Shane Hutchinson and Johan Dam have joined the agricultural lending team, and Seth Palmer has joined the timber lending team. PAI is the $4.4bn agricultural debt and equity business of Prudential Mortgage Capital Co., itself part of NYSE-listed Prudential Financial. They join from Rabo AgriFinance, Farm Credit of Central Florida and MetLife Timberland Finance Group respectively.

A White House special adviser who focuses on pay-for-success initiatives, the US version of social impact bonds, has been promoted to lead the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation. David Wilkinson, who was most recently senior policy adviser on social finance and innovation, will launch a “data-driven” approach to domestic priorities that will include education, jobs, economic development, and health, according to a statement from Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. Wilkinson will replace Jonathan Greenblatt, who in November announced plans to step down to lead the Anti-Defamation League. Link

Tracey Austin has been named director of impact investment for the strategic growth business unit at GRM Futures Group, an organisation which focuses on social development. She will explore new opportunities to drive impact investment ventures in emerging markets. Prior to joining, she was the acting head of the UK Department for International Development Impact Fund. Separately, the fund which manages the DIFD fund, the CDC Group, is looking for an investment executive of impact investments.

Ian Ellis has been named as Group Chief Financial Officer at the Co-operative Group, the UK mutual. He joins from Wilko, the privately owned variety retailer, where he is CFO. He is a previous Head of Finance at Wm Morrisons Supermarkets PLC. Link

A Director of Engagement & Outreach is being sought
by the New York City Office of the Comptroller. Reporting to the Assistant Comptroller for Corporate Governance and Responsible Investment, the Director of Engagement and Outreach will help to develop and oversee implementation of strategic priorities, including shareowner initiatives, policy development and regulatory advocacy.

A Sustainability Analyst is being sought by Triodos’s research department as maternity leave cover. The role reports to the Head of Research at the sustainable bank and the analyst is responsible for researching socially responsible investments for this strategic area for the bank.