Denmark’s MP Pension is to lift an investment ‘quarantine’ it attached to Australian investment bank Macquarie in October last year, amid the furore over its historical role in the international dividend tax affair dubbed the Cum-Ex scandal.
The DKK115bn (€15.4bn) pension fund for academics said it was satisfied that the bank thoroughly disapproved of its own behaviour during the scandal in 2011, and has been involved in no similar cases since then. Macquarie also revised its tax policy, which now prohibits speculation on dividend tax payments.
Anders Schelde, CIO at MP Pension, said: “MP Pension has had a close and constructive dialogue with Macquarie since October 2018 and we have been reassured that Macquarie is somewhere else today regarding their tax practices. Therefore, we have decided to cancel the quarantine.”
The fund said it held shares in Macquarie worth DKK29m and more than DKK800m in infrastructure investments managed by the bank.
MP Pension explained that its quarantine tool differed from outright exclusion of a company in that it only lasts for six months, during which time the bank would assess the situation and engage with the company. Investments can be reduced but not increased during the period.
It added that its decision to remove Macquarie from quarantine was based on interviews with the bank’s chief executive and other management staff and investigations it conducted to assess whether its new tax policy would be strong enough to prevent any further misconduct.
MP Pension also assessed Macquarie’s continued level of co-operation with the German authorities investigating the scandal and the behaviour of its current management in relation to tax practices.
Other major Danish pension funds threatened to stop doing business with Macquarie last year in the wake of the Cum-Ex scandal, which involved traders buying and selling shares rapidly to allow multiple claims to claw back dividend taxes – even though the tax had not been paid.