* Allianz Global Investors sets up impact investing unit
* Focus on investing in companies with measurable ESG impact
* Impact investing increasingly in demand among investors
LONDON, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Asset manager Allianz Global
Investors, part of German insurer Allianz, said on
Wednesday it had set up a new unit focused on 'impact' investing
in private markets, as part of a sustainable investing drive.
AllianzGI, which manages around 647 billion euros ($730.27
billion) in assets, will look to invest in private companies
helping solve environmental or social issues in a measurable
way, it said in a statement.
Interest in companies performing better on such measures has
surged in recent years as more investors expect such investments
to reduce risk and drive stronger returns, particularly as the
world transitions to a low-carbon economy.
Impact investing, meanwhile, takes that a step further by
tracking the impact of the investments on people and the planet,
not just the company's returns.
The new team of 12 will be overseen by Matt Christensen,
Global Head of Sustainable and Impact Investing, AllianzGI
"Investors want to see a positive change for the planet
while generating a return, and impact investing offers a
solution to these twin goals," Christensen said.
AllianzGI said it was also creating a new "Impact
Measurement & Management" team, led by Diane Mak to help select
the investments and assess their impact.
"The future growth trajectory of impact investing depends on
asset managers demonstrating how the impact can be measured and
reported," Christensen said.
The COVID-19 pandemic drew attention to deepening social
inequality which brought impact investing to an "inflection
point," the head of Singapore's Temasek Holdings said
Last week, Swedish private equity firm Summa Equity said it
raised $2.6 billion for Europe's biggest-ever impact fund.
The Texas-based private equity firm TPG, which went
public earlier this month with a more than $10 billion
valuation, also has an impact investing arm, and raised a $5.4
billion for its first climate-focused impact fund.
The fund, called TPG Rise, recently led a $170 million
funding round in Israeli cleantech company UBQ Materials, which
turns household waste into bio-based plastic for use in
industries such as construction and carmaking.
AllianzGI's announcement comes as Tibetan activists demand
that the group drop its sponsorship of the Beijing Winter
Olympics over allegations of human rights abuses in China.
Allianz said it had been in contact with activists and that
it was committed to supporting the values of the Olympics.
($1 = 0.8860 euros)
(Reporting by Simon Jessop; additional reporting by Elizabeth
Editing by Tomasz Janowski)