Activist investor Jana hired staff for new socially responsible fund

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Jana Partners LLC, the activist investment firm now taking steps into socially responsible investing, has hired a portfolio manager and analyst to help oversee its effort of pushing companies to become better corporate citizens.

Dan Hanson, who for a time managed socially responsible funds at BlackRock Inc, the world’s biggest asset manager, and Pulkit Agarwal, who worked at the International Finance Corporation in India before moving to the United States, were hired recently by the New York-based hedge fund, people familiar with the moves said. They will be working on Jana’s new portfolio for which the firm is currently raising money.

Hanson will be a co-portfolio manager and share the responsibilities of overseeing the new fund with Charles Penner, a long-time partner at Jana. Agarwal will support them in helping generate ideas for the new fund, which is expected to be called Jana Impact Capital.

Jana, which oversees roughly $4 billion, in January teamed up with the California State Teachers Retirement System, or Calstrs, which controls roughly $2 billion of Apple Inc shares, to urge the iPhone maker to develop new tools to help parent limit children’s time on mobile devices.

For Jana, it was its forceful foray into pushing for social issues after it has long been successful in prodding corporations to improve their governance. The new fund will look to target other companies on issues like climate change or wage inequality and will likely target as many as 10 companies, people familiar with Jana’s plans said.

Jana’s new fund is being raised at a time more investors are showing an interest in so-called ESG portfolios which make investment selections by including environmental, social and governance factors.

Pairing Penner, a trained lawyer who has worked on most of Jana’s past activist campaigns, and Hanson, a recognized expert in the socially-responsible investing space and investor, will give Jana new tools to identify appropriate targets, industry analysts said.

Before joining Jana, Hanson had been co-chair of the Investment Strategy Committee at Jarislowsky Fraser Global Investment Management, and before that he spent a decade at BlackRock where he was the sole manager of the BlackRock Socially Responsible Equity portfolio. At BlackRock, he was on the proxy voting committee and he was a founding board member the Sustainability Accounting Standard Board.

Agarwal worked with Hanson at Jarislowsky Fraser before moving on to work at Soros Fund Management.

On the West Coast, hedge fund ValueAct, which oversees roughly $16 billion in assets and is also moving into the socially responsible field with a new fund, hired Eva Zlotnicka in February. Previously she had been a Sustainable and Responsible Investment Research analyst at Morgan Stanley.

Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Nick Zieminski