6 January 2016

EF BRIEFS: AP3, Trig, VW, Vigeo, Eiris, United Wind, Forum Equity Partners

Sweden's AP3 fund pledges to halve carbon footprint by 2018

Swedish national pension fund AP3 has ramped up its sustainability efforts, pledging to halve its carbon footprint by 2018 and triple its investment in green bonds.

On the back of COP21, the fund said it had "elected to focus specifically on climate impact", adding that climate change "will lead to shifts in the use of global resources and has a direct effect on AP3's portfolio returns".

As a result, it released new targets for 2018, including halving the carbon footprint of its equities and credit holdings, compared with 2014; pushing companies to report on their carbon footprints; tripling its green bond holdings from SEK4.5 billion ($523.4 million) to SEK15 billion; and doubling its investments in water treatment from SEK10 billion to SEK20 billion.

Trig invests €57m in French solar projects

The Renewables Infrastructure Group (Trig) is investing €57 million ($61 million) in a portfolio of 15 solar energy projects in France.

The London-listed company is investing alongside Akuo Energy, a French renewable power producer, and revenues from the 49MW portfolio will be derived wholly from France's feed-in tariffs, for an average of 16 years from the date of the transaction.

Richard Crawford, infrastructure director at InfraRed Capital Partners, Trig's investment manager, said: "The transaction adds attractive, highly predictable revenue streams ... at a time when the volume of solar opportunities in the UK is expected to decline with the reductions in government support programmes."

The transaction takes the share of non-UK projects in the Trig portfolio to 13% and the share of solar projects, by value, to 30%. Onshore wind projects make up the rest of the portfolio.

US legal action triggers VW share slide

Shares in Volkswagen Group have fallen 7% in the past two days on news that the US government is suing the company over its use of computer software to cheat emissions tests.

VW shares began trading on 4 January at €130.00, before the legal action was announced later that day, and closed at €121.05 on 5 January.

According to Reuters, VW could potentially face fines of as much as $47 billion for fitting the 'defeat devices' to almost 600,000 vehicles in the US. In September, US regulators said the company could face fines in excess of $18 billion.

A novel approach to preventing a repeat of the emissions scandal, through the use of environmental policy performance bonds, has recently been proposed.


Vigeo and Eiris complete merger and raise new capital

Sustainability research firms Vigeo and Eiris have officially completed their merger, after securing approval from Vigeo's shareholders on 22 December. The merger was first announced in October.

The shareholder meeting also approved a €6.3 million ($6.8 million) capital raise to help develop the new company.

A new logo has been designed to highlight the combined entity's main activities of rating and auditing.

Forum Equity Partners backs United Wind with $200m equity stake

US-based United Wind, which leases small turbines to distributed energy users, has secured $200 million in equity capital from Toronto-based investment manager Forum Equity Partners.

The financing will be used to expand United Wind's WindLease programme, which enables residential and commercial property owners to lease wind turbines of up to 100kW capacity, with no up-front payment required.

"With this pivotal investment ... United Wind is now well positioned to provide low-cost wind energy ... to thousands of customers across the country," said CEO Russell Tencer.

Most of the customers for the programme are expected to come from the US Midwest and northeast.