BlackRock Real Assets agrees to acquire solarZero, New Zealand’s leading solar energy services company

BlackRock Real Assets is pleased to announce it has agreed to acquire solarZero, New Zealand’s leading solar energy services company.

As part of the acquisition, BlackRock Real Assets intends to commit over NZD$100 million of capital over the next three years to accelerate the growth of solarZero’s solar and battery technology platform.

Established in 2008, solarZero is a leading provider of roof-top solar and smart battery across residential, commercial, and community buildings in New Zealand. As a leading “solar-as-a-service” option in New Zealand, solarZero aims to make solar and low-priced energy more accessible for New Zealanders by setting a fixed monthly solar services fee with no initial upfront installation costs for the consumer.

Charlie Reid, Asia-Pacific Co-Head of Climate Infrastructure, BlackRock, said, “New Zealand is widely recognised as a global leader in renewable energy and climate finance, and we are pleased to make our first investment in this market”.

UniSuper raises the bar on climate

UniSuper’s climate risk report (now in its fifth year) demonstrates the fund’s progress in managing climate risk across its investments through its rigorous engagement with investee companies.

This year its traffic light rating system now includes interim carbon emission targets and action plans in addition to Paris alignment.

UniSuper’s engagement has contributed to a record 44 of the fund’s 50 largest Australian investments having set Paris-aligned operational targets.

UniSuper’s Chief Investment Officer John Pearce said decarbonisation of the economy is one of the most significant investment themes for at least the next decade and that the corporate sector’s response to the challenges and opportunities of climate change is playing a major role in this.

“We’re investing in companies that are transitioning their businesses to survive and thrive in a low carbon world; and we’re investing in companies that provide the necessary infrastructure and materials to support the transition. Companies producing steel, nickel, copper and lithium are essential to support the energy transition.”

The report can be found at

MetLife adds Fitness and Recovery to 360Health digital offering

MetLife Australia announces the expansion of its 360Health Virtual Care with the addition of Fitness and Recovery to its digital offering, which will address one of the leading causes of reduced mobility, lower levels of well-being and reduced ability to properly participate in society or work.

Over one third of all of MetLife’s Total Permanent Disability (TPD) claims are due to musculoskeletal related conditions, such as back injuries and repetitive strain injuries. Exercise can be effectively used to delay, prevent or alleviate symptoms due to musculoskeletal conditions by designing an exercise program targeted to that individual’s fitness and health needs. MetLife’s decision to add Fitness and Recovery will significantly bolster the existing offering by addressing these conditions through access to Exercise Physiologists for personalised programs.

Lina Saliba, Chief Customer and Marketing Officer said: “Adding Fitness and Recovery to our solutions suite means we can help more customers access the expert advice and support they need to get back to being active and healthy sooner, while at the same time preventing future illness at no additional cost to them.”

World’s largest pension funds reach new US$23.6 trillion record

Assets under management (AUM) at the world’s top 300 pension funds increased by 8.9% to reach a new record, now totalling US$23.6 trillion in 2021, according to the annual research conducted by the Thinking Ahead Institute, in conjunction with Pensions & Investments, a leading U.S. investment newspaper. The research highlights high-level trends in the pension fund industry and provides information on the changing characteristics of these funds.

Australia has 15 funds in the survey, one fewer than the previous year.

The United States (US) now accounts for 39.6% of top 300 pension fund AUM and has almost half the funds in the ranking, with 148. After the US, the countries with the largest number of pension funds in the ranking are the United Kingdom (UK) (23), Canada (18), Australia (15), the Netherlands (12) and Japan (11). Since 2016, a total of 37 new funds have entered the ranking, with the US accounting for the highest net gain (14 funds) and Japan the highest net loss (5 funds). During the same period, the UK had a net loss of three funds, while Switzerland had a net gain of three funds.

Expected Returns 2023-2027: ‘The Age of Confusion’

Robeco has published its twelfth annual Expected Returns report (2023-2027), a look at what investors can expect over the next five years for all major asset classes, along with macro-economic predictions.

Against the backdrop of many moving and unpredictable market parts, including the energy and food crises, double digit inflation in developed countries, and China’s trajectory as the largest contributor to global growth, Robeco is framing the years leading up to 2027 as ‘The Age of Confusion’.

The continued pandemic related fiscal stimulus, supply chain problems, and the Russia-Ukraine war have contributed to unexpectedly high inflation over the past year. Only veteran investors have previously experienced the devastating effect that such high levels have on purchasing power and investment portfolios.

Asset returns are expected to remain below their long-term historical averages over the coming five years, mainly due to the low risk-free rate.

In addition to the five-year outlook, the report also covers four special topics, related to the theme:

  • The emerging trade-off in global trade
  • Gaining an edge with alternative data
  • The energy transition comes with a price tag
  • (No) food for thought.

Laurens Swinkels, Researcher at Robeco: “In this ‘age of confusion’, the future has become less predictable and that includes the consequences of climate risk. The exact magnitude of climate change over the next decades is uncertain, and its impact on asset prices is even more unclear. However, what we do know is that asset allocators need to seriously consider the long-run impact of climate change on asset class returns.”