GLOBAL – Several large Dutch pension funds have now decided to exclude Wal-Mart from their investment universe after efforts to engage with the US retailer over poor labour conditions failed.

Earlier this week, the €140bn asset manager PGGM and the metal schemes PME (€33bn) and PMT (€47bn) announced that they would divest from the company.

The €292bn civil service scheme ABP divested its stake in the company last year.
In a statement, PGGM said: "Wal-Mart doesn't want to meet our concerns about the tense labour relations at the company in its home market, and the company's board is not open to a fruitful dialogue with its shareholder.

"The company limits the options for its employees joining unions, which is contrary to the international labour guidelines of the ILO as well as its own code of conduct for its suppliers."

PGGM added that several requests for further information about the alleged corruption case involving Wal-Mart subsidiary Walmex last year remained unanswered.

It said the retailer had also failed to give the pension fund the opportunity to address the company's independent board members directly.

PGGM, the provider for the large Dutch healthcare pension fund PFZW, had a stake of approximately €200m in Wal-Mart.

At the start of 2012, ABP decided to withdraw its investments in the US retailer, arguing that its staff policy "violated international ILO guidelines", in particular with regards to labour conditions and the ability for staff to organise themselves through unions.

MN, the asset manager for both PME and PMT, said its clients had a stake worth approximately €45m in Wal-Mart shares and bonds.

MN added that it has also divested its €15m equity stake in Indian gas company Gail for its failure to implement a policy to prevent human rights violations.

Chris Douma, head of responsible investments at MN, said: "Companies that don't take their social responsibly seriously could also run added corporate risks."

Wal-Mart declined to comment.