Western Asset, a specialist investment manager of Franklin Templeton, is pleased to announce the launch of its Western Asset Sustainable Global Corporate Bond Fund, a sub-fund of the Dublin domiciled Legg Mason Global Funds PLC range. The fund will be registered for distribution in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Greece and Cyprus.
This new Article 8 fund offers clients the ability to capitalize on opportunities in global credit markets with a vehicle that seeks to identify value and enhanced risk management whilst providing a transparent focus on sustainability and carbon reduction goals. It will be managed in line with the time-tested investment philosophy and process of Western Asset’s flagship Global Credit strategy while integrating a proprietary, transparent and rigorous sustainable investment framework.
“We’ve seen increasing demand for low carbon, sustainable solutions from clients and are delighted to offer the Sustainable Global Corporate Bond Fund, which uses Western Asset’s proprietary ESG framework and seeks to meet minimum thresholds for carbon reduction SDG alignment and portfolio ESG ratings. Our emphasis in achieving a lower portfolio carbon intensity is on identifying issuers with whom we regularly engage and have credible and quantifiable targets, and those with plans for reducing carbon intensity and increasing the use of renewables. In addition, the Fund prohibits investments in tobacco, civilian firearms, controversial weapons, nuclear weapons, thermal coal and issuers that do not uphold the principles outlined in the UN Global Compact,” said Annabel Rudebeck (pictured), Head of Non-US Credit.
Mike Zelouf, Executive Director at Western Asset, commented, “The ongoing challenges of the pandemic and the increasingly tangible challenges of climate change have created a consensus in the regulatory, business and investment communities around the need to reduce carbon emissions and raise the standards for corporate social practices, further strengthening the case for ESG investing. Offering our clients responsible investment strategies that hold companies accountable for operating sustainably, while continuing to target attractive returns, is therefore more important than ever.”
Addressing Climate Change
The Western Asset Sustainable Global Corporate Bond Fund targets carbon reduction. The annual decrease in absolute portfolio weighted average carbon intensity, in addition to the need to maintain a weighted average carbon intensity that is at least 20% below the benchmark, gives the Fund the ability to achieve a positive impact and help meet key sustainable development goals such as SDG 13 on Climate Action and SDG 7 on Affordable and Clean Energy.
Bonnie Wongtrakool, Global Head of ESG Investments/Portfolio Manager at Western Asset, added, “Our aim is not to rely on sector and industry limits to achieve the lower carbon intensity. Instead, our focus is on fundamental value and engagement. This means identifying issuers that are committed to a low-carbon economy and regularly engaging with them. We seek to invest in issuers with credible and quantifiable targets including plans for reducing carbon intensity and increasing the use for renewables. This approach aligns with our firm’s ESG focus. In fact, Western Asset has a long and successful track record of ESG investing, and we’ve integrated ESG analysis across the firm’s $492.4 billion in assets under management as of December 31, 2021.”
The fund is managed by Annabel Rudebeck, Head of Non-US Credit, and Matt Jackson, Portfolio Manager, based in Western Asset’s London office. With more than 22 years of industry experience, Annabel Rudebeck leads Western Asset’s Global Credit team and is responsible for the daily management and strategic direction of the firm’s global credit portfolios. Matt Jackson joined Western Asset in 2003 and oversees its global, European and UK investment grade credit portfolios. Annabel Rudebeck and Matt Jackson are supported by Bonnie Wongtrakool and Ryan Brist, Head of Global Investment-Grade Credit/Portfolio Manager, both based in Western Asset’s Pasadena, California office.