Biggest sovereign fund excludes 52 coal-related groups

(File, iStock)
(File, iStock)

Oslo - Norway's sovereign wealth fund, the world's biggest, has excluded 52 coal-related companies after new ethical guidelines went into effect barring it from investing in such groups, Norway's central bank said Thursday.

In June 2015, the Scandinavian country's parliament agreed to pull the fund out of mining or energy groups which derive more than 30 percent of their sales or activities from the coal business.

The new directive went into effect on February 1.

The fund, fuelled by Norway's state oil revenues and currently worth around 7.11 trillion kroner ($864bn), has therefore sold its stakes in 52 companies, most of them American and Chinese, including Peabody Energy, the biggest US coal producer.

The list also includes several Indian companies, such as Reliance Power, Reliance Infrastructure and Tata Power, three Japanese groups, and several European companies.

"Further exclusions will follow in 2016," the central bank, which manages the fund, said in a statement.

While the Norwegian initiative was seen as a major victory for environmentalists last year, some are dismayed that the world's three biggest coalmakers - Anglo American, BHP Billiton and Glencore - are not affected because their other mining activities are so massive that their coal businesses represent less than 30 percent of their overall revenues.

The fund's investment policy is run according to strict ethical rules, with a focus on sustainable economic, environmental and social development.

Those rules bar it from investing in companies accused of serious violations of human rights, child labour or serious environmental damage, as well as manufacturers of "particularly inhumane" arms, and also tobacco firms.

On its own initiative, the fund, which controls 1.3% of the world's market capitalisation, has in recent years sold its stakes in dozens of other companies in the coal business, judging the environmental impact was damaging to their financial viability.

The fund is intended to finance Norway's generous welfare state indefinitely.


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