News In Brief 3 April 2017


The Stock Exchange member Obtala, a sustainable agriculture and forestry company operating in Mozambique and Tanzania, published a quarterly business update containing various highlights, including:

  • Preparation of management plans for 6 out of 10 forestry concessions in Northern Mozambique totalling c.120,000 hectares
  • Identification of site for a new sawmill in Nampula, Mozambique
  • Architectural design and technical specification for a new sawmill in Nampula

It announced several Board appointments and said, in part: “Since announcing the successful capital raise in December 2016 we have received a steady stream of potential investment opportunities from third parties looking to sell assets or partner with us in East Africa. Those outside our areas of core competence and interest, agriculture and forestry, have been immediately rejected. Conversely, opportunities with potential synergies or falling within our strategic criteria have been, and in some cases continue to be reviewed in detail for strategic, commercial and cultural fit.”


Bethnal Green Ventures, a London-based technology accelerator, said it had raised £1.3 million in funding from Big Society Capital, Nominet Trust and Nesta. BGV’s accelerator focuses on supporting start-ups using technology to address major social and environmental challenges, which it calls ‘tech for good’ start-ups. Twice a year, BGV invites 10 early stage companies to join its 12-week programme, providing £20,000, as well as access to a further £50,000, a co-work space, mentoring and support, in exchange for 6% equity. It has invested £1.4 million in 86 start-ups during its five-year history, while the 56 companies currently in its portfolio have collectively raised £23 million in funding. The latest funding will be used to expand BGV’s operations, building further partnerships and developing later-stage impact investment products for portfolio companies.


Sustainable investing grew 25% globally in the past two years, according to the Global Sustainable Investment Review 2016. The Global Sustainable Investment Alliance, which compiles the review every two years, said at the beginning of 2016, sustainable investment assets reached $22.89 trillion, a 25% increase from 2014. Europe accounts for 53% of the sustainably invested assets; the US for 38%. The remainder considered in the review comes from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Asia excluding Japan. The largest sustainable investment strategy globally is negative or exclusionary screening, which affects $15.02 trillion in assets. Pro-active environmental, social and governance investing accounts for $10.37 trillion and corporate engagement or shareholder action $8.37 trillion. There is some overlap among the strategies, which is why it adds up to more than the $22 trillion total. The relative proportion of retail SRI investments in Canada, Europe and the US doubled, to 26% at the start of 2016.


The House of Lords published a lengthy 156 page report – Stronger Charities for a Stronger Society – which makes 100 recommendations and conclusions. Among those conclusions was a suggestion that charities find the social investment market opaque and confusing, adding: “Government and sector leaders should do more to address the reasons for high transaction costs and work to bring them down. Investors should also be encouraged to have more realistic expectations of the potential for returns from social investment.” It also criticised the working of social impact bonds, saying: “The expectations placed upon social impact bonds have yet to materialise and we believe the government’s focus on them has been disproportionate to their potential impact.”


The Social Stock Exchange member company Accsys announced it had entered into agreements to build operate and finance the world’s first Tricoya wood chip manufacturing plant. It will also progress with the expansion of its Accoya plant in the Netherlands and issue new shares at an offer price of €0.69/share to raise up to €14 million before expenses. Accsys also announced a trading update, with sales volumes of Accoya reaching 31,599 m3 in the ten months from 31 March 2016 to 31 January 2017, an increase of approximately 20% compared with the same period in the previous year.


According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), global renewable energy generation capacity increased by 161 gigawatts (GW) in 2016, making it the strongest year ever for additional new capacity. IRENA estimates that by the end of last year the world’s renewable generation capacity reached 2,006 GW, with solar energy showing particularly strong growth. Asia accounted for 58% of new renewable additions in 2016, giving it a total of 812 GW or roughly 41% of the global capacity. Asia was also the fastest growing region, with a 13.1% increase in renewable capacity. Africa installed 4.1 GW of new capacity in 2016, twice as much as 2015.



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