Denmark’s AkademikerPension announced it is selling off DKK615m (€82.7m) of investments in foreign government bonds and state-owned companies after adding nine states to its country blacklist.
The labour-market pension fund, whose members include upper secondary school teachers, said Belarus, Iran, Pakistan and others states were being excised from its investment universe on 1 April, on the grounds of systematic human rights violations.
In its announcement on the blacklistings, AkademikerPension singled out its decision to add Belarus for comment.
“This is happening against the background of the regime’s systematic violations of human rights, where the political rights of the people are effectively taken away, and where peaceful protesters are arrested and subjected to violence,” the pension fund said.
The other six countries in the DKK127bn pension fund’s latest exclusion exercise are Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Iraq, Mali, and Zimbabwe.
Jens Munch Holst, chief executive officer of AkademikerPension, said: “”We only invest in those countries that are rated at a certain level in relation to human rights.”
The pension fund, based the north Copenhagen suburb of Gentofte, said its country exclusion list will include 45 states following these latest additions.
When a country is excluded in this way, the fund said it sold off holdings in government bonds issued by that country as well as investments in private companies in which the state owned over 50%.
A country blacklisting was also a pledge not to make any new such investments in that country, AkademikerPension said, but added that the pension may decide to keep and make new investments in private companies in which the blacklisted states owned less than 50%.
Munch Holst said Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates were potential candidates for exclusion too, but that as well as acting from a responsibility point of view, the pension fund also had to act properly financially.
“We are not comfortable with that in terms of investment at the moment,” he said.
“To put it rather simplistically, we are trying to exclude the worst of the worst when it comes to human rights violations – and be transparent about where we have to compromise in order to protect members’ pensions,” Munch Holst said.
The pension fund said that in total it would divest assets of approximately DKK615m as a result of the nine new country exclusions, with these sales being made no later than 16 April.
In September, AkademikerPension – which was previously called MP Pension – announced it was blacklisting Chinese state-linked investments from its portfolio, dropping a total of DKK400m of government bonds and shares, due to systematic human rights violations, it said.