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Norway's KLP sells Chinese rail company over corruption concerns

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Norwegian pension provider KLP has sold stakes in a further five coal companies and divested the Chinese state railway company over concerns of gross corruption.

KLP, which provides pensions to local government employees, said it divested the five coal companies in line with its guidelines that it sell holdings in firms drawing more than half of revenues from coal.

The sale of stakes in China Power International Development, Electric Power Development, FirstEnergy Corp, Huadian Power International and Huaneng Power International comes after the provider sold 27 coal company stakes last year.

Head of responsible investment Jeanett Bergan said KLP would continue to assess the threshold it set itself for coal divestment and look to include additional parameters as reporting became more granular.

“Furthermore, we will naturally consider the new coal criterion adopted for the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) and evaluate further exclusions in light of this,” she said.

The Norwegian Parliament last month voted that the sovereign wealth fund should divest any company drawing more than 30% of revenue from coal activities.

KLP also followed the advice of the GPFG’s Council of Ethics, which recommended the exclusion of China Railway Group over concerns of “gross corruption”.

Bergan said there was still an “unacceptable risk” the railway company had been involved in corruption, and that no measures had been put in place to prevent any problems – with the divestment occurring after repeated attempts to contact management failed.

Turkish industrial conglomerate Sabanci Holdings has been excluded from KLP’s investment universe due to its involvement with tobacco production, while Noble Group was divested due to the risk it was contributing to severe environmental damage.

Additionally, Heidelberg Cement and Cemex were divested as they were exploiting natural resources in the West Bank.

Bergan said that while settling on the exclusion of the two companies proved more difficult than a similar barring of firms exploiting resources in Western Sahara, she said exploiting resources in an occupied territory could prolong conflict and was reason for divestment. 

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