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Weaving a Wheb for sustainable investment

Wheb Asset Management, a specialist investor in sustainable investments that was formed last year, has introduced the IM Wheb sustainability fund.

This Oeic aims for growth by investing globally in companies that provide solutions to environmental problems, water shortage, waste management and an ageing population. It will look for companies that have the potential to be future market leaders and that are growing faster than the economy.

Wheb believes that now is a once in a generation chance to invest when valuations are low due. It says climate change is driving investment opportunities in areas such as clean energy, energy efficiency and clean transport. Legislation to reduce greenhouse gases, concerns over security and supply of energy plus the need to reduce energy costs may lead to opportunities in wind generation, solar power, low energy lighting and air pollution control.

Factors driving the water theme include population growth, droughts and flooding caused by climate change and an ageing infrastructure. These may lead to opportunities in infrastructure upgrades, water treatment, testing, filtration and sewerage. Finally, an ageing population , higher levels of obesity and greater awareness of health and fitness may lead to opportunities in healthcare products and services through the demographic theme.

Fund managers Clare Brook and Nicola Donelly will use a quantitative screen to identify stocks that have attractive growth rates, strong balance sheets and attractive valuations.

Brook has 19 years experience managing sustainable and environmental funds. at Jupiter, NPI, Henderson and Morley. Donelly has eight years investment experience and joined Wheb from UBS.

The quality of management teams, the strengths and weaknesses of companies and balance sheet strength will be considered by Brook and Donelly. They will look at how a company fits with the rest of the portfolio in terms of its theme, region and investment style. Holdings will be reviewed on a monthly basis by an investment committee, which monitors performance, risk and turnover. Members of the committee include fund manager Crispin Odey and former editor of The Economist and Deputy Governor of the Bank of England Rupert Pennant-Rea.

Wheb’s specialist knowledge of sustainability investments may provide a competitive edge but a new fund from a new company may not appeal to some advisers. However, Brooks and Donelly’s experience in this field with previous employers and the credentials of Wheb’s investment committee members may win advisers over while a track record is established for this fund.

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