RI round up: Dec 22

RI’s regular round-up of the most important responsible and clean investment news.

FairPensions, the UK lobby group, is co-ordinating work to file shareholder resolutions targeting carbon emissions levels and the implications for indigenous peoples of controversial tar sands projects for inclusion on BP and Shell’s 2010 AGM agendas. The filing deadline for the resolutions is December 23.
France’s Forum for Responsible Investment (FIR) has signed a partnership with Paris Europlace, the lobby group for the promotion of Paris as a financial centre, to accelerate the promotion of SRI in France.
A group of 22 institutional investors led by F&C Asset Management is opposing plans by Korea to introduce legislation to let companies deploy anti-takeover measures, or ‘poison pills.’ The group, who has more than $2.5trn (€1.7trn) in total assets, has written to the Korean Ministry of Justice saying the plans are “vague and could cause confusion” and that they could erode Korea’s ‘governance premium’. Pension fund signatories to the letter include names such as APG, CalPERS, PGGM, Railpen, TIAACREF, and the Universities Superannuation Scheme.
Rory Sullivan, head of responsible investment at Insight Investments is leaving the fund manager on December 22. In October, RI reported that Insight’s three-strong SRI team looked set to be made redundant, following the decision by its parent, Lloyds Banking Group, to break up the fund manager. Sullivan has yet to announce his future plans.
CDC Group, the UK’s development finance institution, has made commitments to invest over US$100m in two sub-Saharan Africa focussed private equity funds. The investments have been made with Helios Investors, in their Helios Investors II fund and with Development Partners International (DPI), in their African Development Partners fund. The commitments are US$75m and €20m respectively.Northern Trust is to sell environmental emission analytics for investors to effectively measure the carbon footprint of their investments. It said the data would be available globally, but to European clients first. The analytics are based on data from Trucost and London-based Style Research’s Portfolio Analyzer (SRPA).
An independent UK Commission on Ownership, notably based around issues of shareholder and stakeholder interests, has been launched.
Chaired by Will Hutton, former Editor of the Observer newspaper and now executive vice-chair of the Work Foundation, the Commission is being funded by Co-operative Financial Services.
Earth Capital Partners (ECP), the renewables specialist backed by Stanley Fink, former CEO of Man Group, the hedge fund giant, has announced the first close of their renewable energy infrastructure fund, ECP Renewable Energy Fund One. The fund, which is targeting up to €750m of investment, says it has seed capital from a large pension fund investor. It will invest in solar, biogas and biomass projects in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. A final close of the fund is expected to take place by the end of November 2010.
Most of the largest real estate companies in Europe have minimal climate change management measures in place, according to analysis by GES Investment Services. In its report on the MSCI Europe Real Estate companies, GES said sustainable property company leaders include Unibail-Rodamco in France and Hammerson and Segro in the UK.
Markit, the London-based financial data company, is launching the Markit Carbon Leadership Global Index. The index tracks the performance of companies according to the Carbon Disclosure Project’s Leadership Index (CDLI) annual scores, which shows carbon reductions against the FTSE All World.

London-based Impax Asset Management and US fund manager, Titanium Asset Management are partnering for a US distribution agreement tied to the launch of two new funds: the Impax Green Markets Fund, and the Titanium Impax International Green Fund. Both funds will invest globally in quoted companies in the alternative energy, water and waste sectors and are managed by Impax. They will open to investors in Q2, 2010, with the latter distributed exclusively by Titanium. Impax increased assets under management by 42% to £1.26bn (€1.40bn) in the six months to September, 2009.
The $126bn (€85.6bn) New York State Common Retirement System has committed $100m to Hudson Clean Energy Partners as part of a $500m ‘Green Strategic Investment Program’. It follows a $50m stake in VantagePoint CleanTech Partners II and $10m in Craton Equity Partners’ for clean technology growth equities. Hudson Clean Energy Partners LP has closed with commitments of more than $1bn.
A new umbrella body for cleantech in Switzerland has been set up. The Swiss Cleantech Association was founded by the Foundation for Global Sustainability.
Link to site
HSBC has launched a range of new regional and country climate change indices. The move builds on its 380-member Climate Change Index, set up in 2007.
Switzerland’s Mountain Cleantech plans to launch its second fund focusing on the cleantech sector in German-speaking countries. The fund, with a target of €100m, will focus on late-stage investments and be structured as a Luxembourg open-ended investment fund. First closing is expected in the third quarter of 2010.
The Methodist Church has been forced to defend its stance on ethical investments. It said it aimed to “create and manage portfolios with a carbon footprint that is relatively low and measurably declining” but commentators have pointed to the fact that 20% of its holdings are in oil, gas and mining. The Church says it seeks to engage with oil companies on the environment.State Street Global Advisors says its new US Community Investing Index (USCII) strategy will take a “buy and hold” approach to match the US Community Investing Index. It aims to attract “institutional investors who are seeking a passively-managed environmental, social and governance (ESG)-related solution with low-cost implementation”. The USCII was launched in 2005 by Innovest and the F.B. Heron Foundation and comprises over 300 large- and mid-cap firms.
Osmosis Investment Management is set to launch a climate solutions exchange-traded fund, to give access to firms worldwide that are making a contribution towards a more sustainable economy. The new ETF will track the 100-member Osmosis Climate Solutions index and be quoted on the Irish Stock Exchange in early January. It will then go on to the London Stock Exchange.
The European Commission has granted €1bn to six carbon capture and storage (CCS) and €565m to nine offshore wind energy projects. The EU said the move would “significantly contribute to the economic recovery of the EU, while increasing our security of energy supply and substantially reduce CO2 emissions”.
The International Labor Organisation has called for proposals to encourage new products and partnerships to bring affordable insurance to developing countries. “Microinsurance is a profitable market and we would love to invite as many people as possible to try to make this market as competitive as possible,” said Brandon Mathews, Head of Microinsurance at Zurich Financial Services.
The World Bank’s Clean Technology Fund has approved $750m of financing for concentrated solar power projects in five countries in the Middle East and North Africa – which will mobilize an additional $4.85bn from other sources. The proposed projects will avoid about 1.7m tons of CO2 per year from the energy sectors of the countries. Meanwhile, the Climate Investment Funds have awarded $1.1bn towards African countries’ clean energy investments and preparations for climate change.

The $31.8bn (€22bn) Maryland State Retirement and Pension System has divested its holdings in Royal Dutch Shell due to the oil giant’s operations in Iran. The fund sold more than one million shares valued at $38.3m and $3.5m in bonds. The sale was because of a new state law forcing the system to divest from Iran and Sudan.
Investors including Dutch development bank FMO, the UK’s CDC and Germany’s DEG are among the backers behind the €50.7m first closing of private equity firm Berkeley Energy’s new Renewable Energy Asia Fund. The new fund plans equity investments of €5m-15m in primarily wind, small hydro, biomass, solar and methane recovery projects. Meanwhile, FMO has created a $6.65m clean energy investment facility to be managed by investment firm E+Co. The expectation is that 60% of the funding will be invested in Sub-Saharan markets.
Deminor, the Benelux corporate governance group, is to petition a Belgian court to award damages to around 4,000 Fortis investors for losses suffered when the financial group was split up and its shares fell to below one euro, according to reports. Charles Demoulin, partner at the investor activist group, said there was evidence to suggest that Fortis misled shareholders over several different matters such as its acquisition of ABN Amro.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission has introduced a series of measures to improve information provided to shareholders. The new rules – effective as of February 28 2010 – require disclosures about the relationship of a company’s pay policies to risk management as well as the background and qualifications of directors and nominees. Also required are disclosures about legal actions involving management, diversity procedures and potential conflicts of interests of compensation consultants. Separately, the SEC has approved amendments to the New York Stock Exchange corporate governance listing standards that will become effective on January 1.
Michael Payne, former head of business and strategy for the EMEA region at RiskMetrics Group, has been hired as a director at Lake Isle M&A. The company said the hire of Payne would enhance its governance offering on cross-border M&A transactions.Two working groups of the US Social Investment Forum have issued reports on corporate ESG reporting trends. The first by the International Working Group’s Emerging Markets Disclosure Project (EMDP), analyzes sustainability reporting practices of the top ten companies by market capitalization in ten of the world’s largest emerging markets.
Link to report
The second report, by the Sustainable Investment Research Analyst Network (SIRAN), reviews sustainability reporting trends among the S&P 100 in the United States.
Link to report
Harcourt Investment Consulting’s ‘Belair’ product has been named “Most innovative fund of hedge funds of the year” for sustainable alternative investments by Hedge Funds Review.
Benelux pension funds have, via an infrastructure fund run by Dutch bank NIBC, bought into two German wind farm portfolios. The €347m NIBC European Infrastructure Fund I said it bought eight wind farms in total for an undisclosed sum. The fund says its “core investor base” consists of large Benelux- based pension funds and financial institutions.
Knight Capital Group, the largest electronic market maker in the US, is moving into carbon trading with the appointment of Daniel Braun to the new role of head of carbon trading. He was previously an advisor on carbon credit development and trading and was formerly Director of Global Environmental Finance at Stark Investments.
Climate Change Capital has named Vivienne Cox, the former chief executive of BP’s alternative energy arm, as its new chairman. She takes over from Otto van der Wyck, who is leaving after six years in the role. The move follows the departure of CEO Mark Woodall in July to be replaced by Shaun Mays, the former CEO of Deutsche Asset Management’s RREEF Infrastructure Investments arm.
China’s sovereign wealth fund is among investors that bought into the Hong Kong listing of Asia’s largest wind power generator. Local media reported that China Longyuan Power Group’s IPO attracted interest from the China Investment Corporation as well as China Life Insurance Group and US investor Wilbur Ross as it raised HK$17bn (€1.5bn).