Fund Solutions

This Week’s Fund News: Robeco Sustainable Bond Strategy Targets Asia

ESG Investor’s weekly round-up of news about funds designed to meet sustainable investing criteria, including Robeco, CFSL, abrdn, UKIB, Octopus Investments, Downing, KGAL, and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation.

Dutch asset manager Robeco has launched a new bond strategy that will invest in diversified Asian fixed income. The Sustainable Asian Bonds strategy will predominantly invest in companies contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Targeting some of the fastest growing economies across Asia, the strategy will follow an active approach so it can take off-benchmark positions, investing in Asian corporate and sovereign bonds. Thu Ha Chow was recently appointed as Robeco’s Head of Fixed Income Asia and will be the fund’s lead portfolio manager. She said: “The Asian fixed income market has a crucial role to play in financing the transition to a sustainable future. I’m excited to be managing the Sustainable Asian Bonds fund and together with the team applying the SDGs in combination with superior credit selection, allowing our clients to benefit from the opportunities in the region and have a positive sustainable impact.” 

CFSL, the investment management subsidiary of the UK-based Charities Aid Foundation, has partnered with asset manager abrdn to launch a range of ESG-focused funds for charitable investors. Alison Taylor, CEO of CAF Bank and Charity Services, Charities Aid Foundation, said: “As a charity ourselves, we’re driven to develop products and services for charitable organisations that reflect the dynamics of the world we are in. This new range of investment funds is about enabling charities to build their financial resilience with sustainable returns, so they can do more life-changing work with lasting benefits for all.” As well as generating strong financial returns, the range will contribute to the causes represented by charitable investors. The new range consists of three funds: IFSL CAF ESG Cautious, Income and Growth, and Growth funds. Potential investments were be screened against a set of ESG standards. The range will be open for an initial offer period from 16 May to 10 June, formally launching on 13 June. “We believe that investing responsibly is key to delivering sustainable, long-term returns, as well as helping to address the challenges faced by the world today,” said Caroline Tye, Managing Director, Discretionary at abrdn. “The overarching aim is to help investors make the most of their investments, empowering them to fund the causes they are looking to support.” 

State-owned investment bank UK Infrastructure Bank is set to be the cornerstone investor of a new fund launched by Octopus Investments. The Octopus Sustainable Infrastructure Fund (OSIF) will support new infrastructure projects in the bank’s mandated priority sectors that will contribute to the interim targets of the UK’s transition to net zero. The bank and asset manager collaborated to create OSIF, with UK Infrastructure Bank planning to invest up to £100 million on a match-funding basis. Project could include the development of battery storage or electric vehicle charging infrastructure. “The scale of the UK’s net zero ambitions will require billions of pounds of investment,” said Robert Skinner, Head of Alternative Investments at Octopus Investments. “Some of that money needs to be channelled towards scaling up the emerging infrastructure technologies, companies and assets across critical sectors, such as digital infrastructure like small cells and green data centres, battery storage, electric vehicle charging and waste management. These are the sectors that will form the foundations of our sustainable economy and energy system in the years to come.” 

Bagnall Energy, the renewable energy and infrastructure arm of privately owned investment firm Downing’s Estate Planning Service has acquired a 30 megawatt (MW) onshore wind farm in Finland, the firm’s first investment in the country. With construction expected to be completed by the end of Q2 this year, the farm will produce enough electricity to annually power the equivalent of around 37,000 UK homes. The project was originally developed and will be constructed by European developer Energiequelle. “At Downing, we are committed to responsible investing and this latest acquisition supports our commitment to this strategy,” said Tom Williams, Head of Energy and Infrastructure at Downing. “We are delighted to be expanding our portfolio into Finland, which is accelerating its growth plans for renewable energy. Projects like the Konttisuo wind farm are key to delivering decarbonisation and increasing energy security.” 

Munich-based investment manager KGAL has acquired a majority stake in an Italian solar and wind developer through its KGAL ESPF 5 impact fund. The project developer, Baltex Progetti, is planning to develop solar parks in Sardinia and Sicily and wind farms in Emilia Romagna, a total projected capacity of 300 MW. KGAL ESPF 5 is categorised as an Article 9 fund under the EU’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR). “For KGAL ESPF 5, holding a majority stake has the major advantage of securing access to a broadly diversified, promising project pipeline in the highly competitive renewables market via just one transaction,” said Michael Ebner, Head of Sustainable Infrastructure at KGAL.  

UK charity Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation plans to allocate £100 million of its £1 billion endowment to impact investments that contribute to ensuring a healthier society. Anita Bhatia, Investment Director, said: “We are attracted to investments and strategies that are bold enough to challenge or enhance systems and markets that are currently failing to meet the health needs of people, in particular of marginalised communities. We look for pioneering ideas and business models that have the potential to scale.” The foundation will explore global opportunities and emerging investments in sectors including food and nutrition, community and infrastructure, and employment and training. The charity aims to grow its impact allocation to £100 million by the end of 2026. “As an organisation with a mission to invest in a healthier society, and a mandate to use all our assets to achieve that, impact investment offers an unparalleled opportunity to deploy capital in ways that are strongly aligned with our goals – both for health impact and financial return,” said CEO Ethan Hall. 

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