News In Brief 20 March 2017

PLACES FOR PEOPLE

The Social Stock Exchange member company Places for People launched a new fund management business, called PfP Capital. Its first fund will target the UK private rented sector (PRS) and will acquire 1,379 residential units from Places for People valued at around £150 million. The PfP Capital PRS Fund is aiming to invest a further £150 million in acquiring similar properties. It will target assets across the UK based on population densities and the strength of local rental markets. Places for People will retain a substantial investment in the fund and, as a not-for-dividend organisation, intends to recycle the secondary capital into the group’s business activities to accelerate the delivery of new homes and other social impact projects. PfP Capital Managing Director is Places for People’s former Tax and Treasury Director Chris Jones.

THRIVE RENEWABLES

Another Social Stock Exchange member, Thrive Renewables, has seen 933 individuals invest in the company’s latest bond offer, raising £10 million. The Bristol-based company has contributed to the construction of 95MW of renewable energy projects, across 19 sites around the UK with a total of £105 million assets under management. A portion of the £10 million has already gone directly into three renewable energy projects, including a three-turbine wind farm built on an old coal mine in Scotland. These new projects will power clean electricity to homes by autumn 2017. The bond offer was made available online through Abundance Investment Ltd. It attracted investors as young as 24 years and the oldest at 94 years, with over 50% of new investors coming via the Abundance online platform.

THIRD SECTOR

Greensleeves Care, the UK charity focused on providing care for older people, said it closed a bond issue that raised £33 million in less than a week, administered by the social finance charity Allia. The charity will use the funds raised to buy and develop new homes for older people. The issue has become the largest retail charity bond to date. Greensleeves manages 20 care homes serving 789 residents. According to the charities register, the organisation had income of £24 million in 2016, assets of £43 million and liabilities of £13.5 million. The fundraising therefore represents a significant expansion of its business.

BLOOMBERG

AMP Capital Investors, the investment management arm of AMP Ltd and Australia’s largest publicly traded wealth manager, is divesting from stock and debt investments of about A$440 million ($338 million) in companies with ties to tobacco, cluster munitions and land mines. “We are not prepared to deliver investment returns to customers at any cost to society,” AMP Capital CEO Adam Tindall said. Assets at funds that screen out investments that don’t meet ethical investing criteria grew by 16% to A$24.7 billion in 2015-16, according to the Responsible Investment Association Australasia. AMP will implement a new framework that considers harm as well as “denial of humanity” when determining investment decisions.

ASHLEY HOUSE

Ashley House said its majority owned joint venture business, F1 Modular Limited, has completed the acquisition of the operation of its former modular off-site construction partner. Ashley House, a Social Stock Exchange member company, has thus increased its ownership of F1M to 76%. F1M was set up as a platform for the design and delivery of projects using off-site construction and for the past year has provided a specialist route to market for Ashley House to win and deliver schemes, benefitting from off-site modular construction. F1M has now acquired plant, equipment and other assets together with an experienced workforce. It is also entering into a new lease on the 80,000 square foot factory on an eight acre site in Newtown, Powys. A primary purpose of F1M is to provide significant levels of affordable housing to the public sector, through agreements with Local Authorities and Registered Providers to meet housing shortages.

OFFICE FOR NATIONAL STATISTICS

House prices have risen by 259% since 1997, while average salaries have gone up by just 68% over the same period, making houses in England and Wales the least affordable they have ever been, the Office for National Statistics said. The average house now costs 7.6 times average annual earnings, compared to 3.6 times earnings in 1997. Figures from the latest annual housing survey show that home ownership in Britain has fallen to the lowest level since 1985: 62.9% of the population own their own home down from a peak of 71% in 2003.

FINANCIAL TIMES

The world’s largest chocolate makers have agreed to co-operate in ending deforestation in key cocoa growing areas, starting with the Ivory Coast and Ghana. Twelve companies signed an agreement on Thursday to develop an action plan to tackle deforestation by the next round of UN climate talks in November. Barry Parkin, head of sustainability at Mars who chairs the World Cocoa Foundation, which promotes sustainability in the cocoa sector, said the companies came together a year ago and now have six months to form a detailed action plan. “Now the hard work starts,” he said. “We need to think about how we sort this complex issue and what does it take to do it.” The FT quoted James Wharton, the minister for international development, as saying that illegal deforestation was destroying livelihoods and natural habitats: “We can see this all too clearly in the cocoa industry, where the extreme poverty of farmers is a pervasive problem, child labour still exists, and we are seeing more and more forest disappearing.”

JOURNAL OF POLYMERS AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Researchers at Ohio State University claim to have made tyres using a rubber composite made partly from tomato peels and eggshells. Tests suggest the resulting tyres not only meet industry standards but exceed them. Together, the eggshells and tomato peels proved to be a great filler that can replace carbon black, a material made from petroleum whose costs vary with the price of oil and which can end up being 30% of a tyre’s weight. Typically, carbon black – a material produced by the incomplete combustion of heavy petroleum products and primarily used as reinforcement for tyres, and possibly carcinogenic for humans – makes rubber stronger but also less flexible; however the ground eggshells and tomato peels enabled the strong rubber to retain flexibility. The aim of the research is to make greater use of food waste and reduce dependence on fossils fuels.

 

 

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