NETHERLANDS - The €3bn industry-wide pension fund PNO Media has excluded giant US retailer Wal-Mart from its investment universe for violating labour rights.
PNO Media said the decision followed a series of fruitless efforts aimed at both engagement and getting the subject on the agenda of the shareholders meeting.
"Wal-Mart has consistently refused to engage in a dialogue on labour rights," the pension fund said, adding that court verdicts reflected a "structural anti-union attitude".
PNO Media said its socially responsible investment (SRI) policy was based on engagement and that exclusion was used only as a last resort.
The media scheme noted that it had engaged with Wal-Mart about other subjects in the past, achieving positive results after a dialogue about improving the retailer's policy on limiting CO2 emissions.
PNO Media has contracted out its engagement policy to Hermes Equity Ownership Services. The scheme's SRI code excludes investments in companies that manufacture weapon systems that cause disproportional effects, anti-personnel mines and cluster ammunitions, as well as companies that process or trade fur.
Recently, PGGM - the asset manager of the €91bn healthcare scheme PFZW - withdrew its €13m investments in Indian mining company Vedanta Resources for "persistently ignoring" the environment and human rights.
Despite a two-year dialogue about Vedanta's mining activities in the state of Orissa, the company made no concrete improvements, PGGM said.
In other news, ANWB, the €735m pension fund for motorists, has selected AZL as its new pensions provider.
Heerlen-based AZL will carry out the pension administration and actuarial reporting for the pension fund from 1 January 2011, according to Jaap Groen, the scheme's director.
Guide van Woerkom, chairman at ANWB, said: "We have chosen AZL because they have made a professional and dedicated impression.
"The people of AZL know what they are talking about, they have a lot of experience, and their computer systems do what they are supposed to do."
According to Groen, the pension fund's present contract with insurer Nationale Nederlanden (NN) expires at the end of this year.
"NN's administrative system has always been directed at insurance, whereas AZL's is fully aimed at pensions," he said. "Moreover, we could get a better deal at AZL."
According to AZL - a subsidiary of ING - the number of pension funds it is servicing has risen to 62, with a total of 550,000 participants.