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Danish pension funds ready to reinvest in Burma

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Danish pension funds ATP and PKA say they are ready to invest in companies involved in oil extraction in Burma again, following the government’s change of stance on conditions in the Southeast Asian country. 

In a statement, ATP said: “The situation in Myanmar/Burma has changed in a positive direction, the EU sanctions have been lifted, and Denmark is opening an embassy in the country in the course of 2014.”

ATP, PKA and labour-market pension fund Sampension sold investments in companies involved in oil extraction in the country – also known as Myanmar – in 2007-08 after the Danish government took the view that EU sanctions against the Burmese government should also include oil extraction activities. 

The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has now confirmed to ATP it is no longer Denmark’s view that there should be sanctions against oil extractions in Burma/Myanmar, the DKK600bn (€80.4bn) pension fund said. 

It said it therefore decided to stop excluding companies from its investment universe on the grounds that they were involved in oil extraction in the Asian country.

“ATP has at present not made any investments in any of the affected companies,” the pension fund said.

“If ATP does decide at some point to invest in one of these companies again, a screening will first take place of the business to establish that there are no elements of the business that could contravene ATP’s guidelines on social responsibility.”

In October 2007, ATP said it would divest its DKK935m stake in Total and sell off smaller holdings in other oil companies working directly with Burmese state enterprise Myanmar Oil.

PKA then said it would sell the DKK65m of shares its held in Total.

Sampension also said it would divest holdings in Total and Chevron, which amounted to around DKK100m of assets. 

A spokesman for pensions administrator PKA, which manages assets of DKK194.8bn for five labour-market pension funds, said the company took the same view on the matter as ATP.

“PKA has been in dialogue with the Danish government, and since there are no political sanctions to consider, PKA can invest in companies in Burma as long as they don’t violate PKA’s ethical guidelines,” he said.

However, PKA did not have any concrete plans on investing in particular companies operating in Burma as yet, he said. 

In July last year, the EU reinstated the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) tariff preferences to Burma/Myanmar, having temporarily withdrawn them in 1997 due, the EU Council said, to violations in the country of the principles of the ILO convention on forced labour.

The GSP tariff preferences let developing countries pay less or no duties on exports to the EU, giving them access to European markets. 

Since last summer, the EU has been making further moves towards normalisation of trade relations with the country.

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