Major pension fund introducing ethical investment plan

13.10.2021 - 10:59
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 Mynd: EPA
The Lífeyrissjóður verzlunarmanna pension fund has blacklisted 138 companies and already sold holdings worth around three billion krónur from its portfolio. The head of the fund’s asset management division says there is a lot of work involved in completely eliminating the blacklisted companies from the portfolio overall. Lífeyrissjóður verzlunarmanna is Iceland’s second-biggest pension fund.

The companies on the blacklist are deemed to not fulfil the requirements for sustainable and responsible investment under the fund’s new investment policy. The companies are blacklisted either because of products they produce or because of their ethical or human rights records.

The list includes 88 companies in the coal, oil sand or oil shale industries, 13 tobacco companies, 22 companies that manufacture controversial weapons, and 15 companies deemed to breach the UN Global Compact. 

Arne Vagn Olsen, head of asset management at Lífeyrissjóður verzlunarmanna, says the policy that led to the new blacklist was adopted in September and has already led to the sale of holdings worth around three billion krónur. “These are overseas assets that are very saleable. They are all sold with the best organisation and though we have sold these amounts, which are high in the Icelandic context, they are small in the big context; they are small figures in the foreign context,” he says. 

The goal is to relieve the pension fund of all assets in all the companies on the list, and this will mean selling shares worth an additional 14 billion krónur. The divestment will impact the accounts that the fund invests in large overseas equity funds. “We just need to invest in the right funds and that is a project for the future,” Arne explains. 

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Alexander Elliott
Fréttastofa RÚV