Fund Solutions

Calamos Fund Courts European ESG Investors

Co-branded sustainable equities fund offers US exposure, with a portion of profits earmarked for philanthropic causes selected by basketball megastar.  

Global investment firm Calamos Investments’ Calamos Antetokounmpo US Sustainable Equities Fund aims to meet European demand for access to US companies, but also offers a twist via a joint venture with Greek basketball superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. 

The fund, classified as Article 8 under the EU’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation, provides opportunities to invest in primarily US companies that are deemed by Calamos to contribute to a “more sustainable world and improved conditions for humankind”. 

“We heard from our distribution team that there was a real appetite in Europe for a US exposure managed by US managers,” Beth Williamson, Head of Sustainable Equity Research at Calamos, told ESG Investor. “This is why we chose to go with that particular strategy in the UCITS wrapper.” 

The fund has been launched as a joint venture between Calamos and Antetokounmpo, who is a two-time most valuable player winner and helped the Milwaukee Bucks to the National Basketball Association title in 2021.  

The fund is the latest of the Calamos Antetokounmpo Sustainable Equity Funds, a suite of publicly listed ESG funds, which was co-launched by the company and basketball star last February. 

Calamos and Antetokounmpo have committed to donating 10% the partnership’s profits to charity or to nonprofits that align with the social impact objectives, including support for single mothers, financial literacy, and education. 

While Antetokounmpo is not involved in the management of the fund, he will play a key role in directing the profits into organisations that align his goals. 

“This is a way to not only invest in strong global leaders, but also have a philanthropic aspect to your investment and brings something interesting and new into the investing space,” said Williamson. 

The Calamos Antetokounmpo Sustainable Equity Funds, including this fund, follow ESG investment principles. All are available to retail and institutional investors.  

“Giannis Antetokounmpo’s appeal in the European market, especially in Greece, is part of our strategy,” Williamson said. “We are very optimistic we will be able to raise significant assets.” 

Outperformance including ESG 

The fund has a total of 47 holdings, with its top ten including Microsoft, Alphabet, Apple, and Visa. “We talk a lot about investing in global leaders,” Williamson said. “To us, global leaders are companies that have better fundamentals and offer better opportunities for long-term performance.” 

“We are here to outperform our benchmark,” she added. “We believe that we can do that through the integration of non-financial or ESG data.” 

But the fund’s investment approach is also firmly rooted in science, based on criteria developed in the late 1990s with the input of environmental scientist Susan Burns, formerly of Natural Strategies and Global Footprint Network. 

“We set up a criteria back in 1999 to identify companies that were spotting opportunities and minimising risks so that they would be better equipped to perform in a changing environmental and social landscape,” said Williamson, who joined Calamos’ sustainable equities team two years ago. 

The firm’s proprietary environmental and impact scoring system assesses a company’s ability to effectively mitigate ESG risk and navigate the future human development needs and environmental constraints while creating value for shareholders.  

It does this through the evaluation of six categories: product contribution, life cycle innovation, operational efficiency, inclusive finance, ensuring health, and basic services. 

This includes companies reducing resource and energy use across a product’s lifecycle, create efficiency improvements manufacturing and operations, and provide health facilities and technologies for employees. 

“We’ve always used alternative data to help find our competitive edge and something to differentiate us in the marketplace,” said Williamson. 

Founded in 1977 with the objective of helping investors create and build long-term wealth through innovative, risk-managed strategies, Calamos has accumulated more than US$34 billion in AUM and relationships with 173 institutional investors.  

According to Calamos, the firm “sees great market opportunity within the institutional market” due to their dual requirements for high quality ESG performance and superior risk and return.

The practical information hub for asset owners looking to invest successfully and sustainably for the long term. As best practice evolves, we will share the news, insights and data to guide asset owners on their individual journey to ESG integration.

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