More than a dozen Dutch pension funds have decided to exit all their Russian investments as a result of the Russian invasion on Ukraine. At the same time, however, a large number of schemes prefer to not mention the war at all.
The Netherlands’ large sector schemes, whose actions tend to be covered by the mainstream press, were among the first to inform their members and the public about the impact of the war on their Russian investments.
ABP and Bpf Bouw were the first two funds to announce a complete withdrawal from the country last week. Since then, healthcare scheme PFZW and metal industry schemes PME and PMT have joined them.
As a result, the five largest Dutch funds will all divest from Russia once this is feasible. Currently, markets in the country are closed, making it all but impossible to sell securities.
Other funds that will divest from Russia include the fund for GPs Huisartsen, the butchers’ fund Slagers, PNO Media, retail industry fund Detailhandel, the scheme for pharmacists Apothekers, as well as a number of company pension plans: ABN Amro, Rabobank, ING, TNO and the three funds of airline KLM.
Huisartsen had already started a process to divest from Russia well before the invasion. Slagers has started to sell its Russian bonds but had not yet completed this operation when Russian president Vladimir Putin started his own “special operation” of invading Ukraine.
Many other funds have informed their members via short news items on their websites that the consequences of the Russian invasion on their investments were “small” and that they were “closely monitoring the impact of the conflict on their investments”.
Because many of these funds invest passively in emerging markets, they do not need to take a decision whether or not to sell their Russian holdings, as most index providers have already decided to exclude the country from their benchmarks.
Don’t mention the war
Another group of pension funds has maintained total silence over the course of the conflict, which is now in its 14th day, seemingly advocating the adage “Don’t mention the war”. These funds include several large company schemes such as Shell, Unilever, DSM, AkzoNobel, UWV and Gasunie. The latter fund’s parent company has a stake in the Nord Stream II pipeline.
Industry schemes that have not yet said a word about Russia include the fund for hairdressers Kappers, multi-sector scheme PGB, the fund for cleaners Schoonmaak and hospitality industry fund Horeca & Catering.