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Nuveen's $15B Impact Investing Sector Launch Is Just The Start

Nuveen Managing Director Nadir Settles

Investment giant Nuveen Real Estate is planning to launch an impact investing sector targeting affordable and sustainable housing with supportive services for residents, according to the company.

Nuveen's goal is to have the new sector hold a minimum of $15B in real estate assets under management by 2026, investing in early stage projects to increase the supply of social and affordable housing among low-income and otherwise disadvantaged populations, and Nuveen doesn't plan to stop when it reaches its $15B goal.

The company has tapped Nadir Settles as global head of impact investing and Pamela West as senior portfolio manager to oversee the initiative's expansion. Settles has been with Nuveen for 10 years and runs the company's New York office, a position he will retain.

The new sector will represent a small slice of the pie for Nuveen, which is a subsidiary of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America-College Retirement Equities Fund, or TIAA. Nuveen has about $142B in assets under management.

Settles said that $15B in assets under management will just be a start for the new initiative, which will not only focus on affordable housing but community revitalization projects within healthcare, education and transportation services.

“We’re going to aggressively work to outpace that, and with enhancing our public-private partnerships, hopefully we beat that plan in two years,” Settles told Commercial Observer, adding that the investment total might eventually be as much as $50B.

The sector will seek investments internationally, including affordable housing in the United States, but also Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

Nuveen made its first impact investment in the 1980s and has since invested over $500M in over 200 companies in alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Now the company manages over $5.8B in impact-oriented assets.

In April, Nuveen expanded its range of impact investing strategies to Europe with the launch of a German living impact platform. That initiative, led by portfolio manager Tanja Volksheimer, will focus on affordable housing.

The company also recently closed its first global private equity impact platform, which targets investments that involve energy efficiency and greater services for underserved communities, at $218M.