The Danish pension fund P+ revealed it has put 11 of its portfolio stocks under close scrutiny regarding their business links to the military regime in Myanmar following the coup at the beginning of February, and may divest them.
The pension fund cited a report published by action group Justice for Myanmar in March, which identified several companies that could have “a problematic relationship” with the military regime in Myanmar or the regime’s state-owned companies.
That report had singled out PGGM and APG in particular for criticism, and both of the Dutch pension investors subsequently announced they had taken action to dissuade holdings from maintaining business links with Myanmar’s military.
P+, which describes itself as a the pension fund for those with higher academic qualifications, published a list of its holdings it said had business links to the dictatorship in Myanmar, including Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Italian energy company Eni and Japanese telecoms firm KDDI.
The pension fund said its total investment in the companies amounted to around DKK131m (€17.6m).
It said: “The companies on the list are firms P+ is now monitoring closely, which it is seeking to have a dialogue with, and which it is assessing regarding whether they should be divested.
When it knew more about the situation, P+ said it would provide an update, which would be no later than 1 October this year.
The Danish pension fund said it was already in talks with three of the companies listed, and was attempting to establish dialogues with the other eight.
Kirstine Lund Christiansen, deputy director and head of responsible investment at P +, said Myanmar had been on the pension fund’s exclusion list even before February’s military coup, meaning it did not invest in government bonds issued by the South Asian country.
However, the pension fund did have investments in companies which had some activities in Myanmar, she said in an article on the pension fund’s website, which was also published on Danish news service InsideBusiness last week.
“With the military coup, the question arises as to whether some of the firms have a relationship with the country’s military and are thereby contributing to, or are connected to the very desperate situation,” she said.
For example, she said, one of Hilton’s the three Myanmar hotels was reported to be located in a building owned by the military in a region where Rohingya people had been displaced.
Lund Christiansen said many companies did not publish adequate information in line with the requirements of the UN Guidelines on Human Rights and Business.
“We also experience this in connection with the situation in Xinjiang in China,” she said.
The fact that there could still be doubts as to whether some of the world’s largest brands may have used forced labour in their value chains showed the voluntary guidelines needed to be replaced with legal requirements, Lund Christiansen said.