NORWAY – Life insurance company Storebrand has introduced environmental and social criteria to its management of life insurance policyholders’ funds. The company emphasises that the move will not reduce the yield on customers’ funds, some NOK111bn managed by the group’s asset manager, Storebrand Kapitalforvaltning. The so-called socially responsible investment (SRI) criteria are introduced to the entire share portfolio, accounting NOK30bn.

“As Norway’s largest life insurance company and manager of pension funds, Storebrand Livsforsikring has both a desire and a responsibility to take a stance for a sustainable development. We are therefore introducing socially responsible investment criteria for that part of the policyholders’ funds that is invested in shares,” says Espen Klitzing, managing director of Storebrand Livsforsikring.

“These criteria are increasingly being put on the agenda, nationally and internationally. Storebrand is the first company in Norway to take this step. Through customer surveys we have confirmed that this type of question engages our customers and that they are positive to the company taking ethical consideration when investing their pension funds,” he adds.

The company has offered its customers an environmental fund since 1996, which has been measured against Morgan Stanley’s World Index (MS-WI), and the company says the yield generated by the environmental fund has been “satisfactory” in relation to MS-WI.

The asset manager says it will not invest in companies that produce or distribute tobacco products or companies that have more than 10% of their sales or revenues from the industry. Companies that do not make sure, to the best of their ability, that their products are not used in the production, distribution or sale of landmines are also out, says the firm.
Breaches of human rights and child labour, as well as environmental and social results of, initially, European chemical companies are also issues taken into account by the manager.