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Tuesday August 24, 2010

Norway’s oil fund excludes Samling over ethics

OSLO: Norway’s state pension fund, one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, has excluded two Israeli companies for “unethical activity” linked to settlement building in the Palestinian territories and one Malaysian forestry firm on ethical grounds, the Norwegian government said yesterday.

According to the Finance Ministry, the so-called oil fund, which contains nearly all state revenues from the country’s booming oil and gas industry, has sold its holdings in Africa Israel Investments, which is the largest shareholder of Danya Cebus, which the fund says is involved “in developing settlements in occupied Palestinian territory.”

The government also said the pension fund would exclude a Malaysian forestry company called Samling Global due to “extensive and repeated breaches” of regulations of its activities in Sarawak, and Guyana.

“The Council on Ethics has assessed Samling Global, and concluded that the company’s forest operations in the rainforests of Sarawak and Guyana contribute to illegal logging and severe environmental damage,” Finance Minister Sigbjoern Johnsen said in a statement.

At the end of 2009, Norway’s state pension fund held 8.1 million kroner in stocks in Samling Global, which have now been sold.

The fund, which is Europe’s largest investor, held 2,792 billion kronor in international stocks and bonds at the end of June. – AFP

Ethical directives from the government bar the fund from investing in manufacturers of weapons considered “particularly inhumane” and in companies known to be involved in large-scale human rights violations, corruption, the tobacco industry or environmental pollution.

Around 50 companies have already been blacklisted by the fund, including Boeing, Wal-Mart, EADS and BAE Systems. – AFP

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