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​NBIM brings Rio Tinto, Walmart back into sovereign fund’s universe

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The manager of Norway’s NOK9.1trn (€938bn) sovereign wealth fund has brought a number of blacklisted companies back into its investment universe.

Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), which manages the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), revoked exclusions applied to a range of companies including US retailer Walmart, mining company Rio Tinto, aerospace firm General Dynamics and Canadian fertiliser specialist Nutrien.

NBIM said in a statement: “The executive board’s decisions to revoke the exclusions were made on the basis of recommendations from the Council on Ethics, which regularly shall assess whether the basis for observation or exclusion still exists.”

The sovereign wealth fund said Walmart and its Mexican subsidiary Walmart de Mexico were originally blacklisted in 2006 based on an assessment finding serious or systematic violations of human rights. However, the grounds for this exclusion no longer existed, according to NBIM.

Rio Tinto’s exclusion, made in 2008, was based on an assessment of the risk of severe environmental damage related to the company’s Grasberg mine in Indonesia, but the company has now agreed to sell its interest in the mine, NBIM said.

Mexican company Grupo Carso was blacklisted for tobacco production in 2011, but has since made it clear to the council that it is no longer involved with this activity

General Dynamics was excluded from the GPFG’s investment universe in 2005 because of its production of cluster munitions, which, NBIM said, has since been terminated.

The Canadian fertiliser company Nutrien, formerly named the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, was added to the blacklist in 2011 following an assessment of the risk of violations of fundamental ethical norms linked to the company’s operations in Western Sahara. These activities had now ceased, NBIM said.

NBIM said the revocation of these exclusions meant that the GPFG was now allowed to invest in the companies, and the Ministry of Finance would decide when the securities would be re-introduced into the fund’s benchmark index. However, it was up to the fund manager to decide if and when to purchase shares in the companies, NBIM said.

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