Norway’s giant sovereign wealth fund (SWF) announced a series of ethical investment decisions, including the exclusion of a Chinese sportswear firm, with the fund’s ethical council saying there was a risk the firm was contributing to human rights abuses due to Xinjiang links.

Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), which manages the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG), said it is excluding the sporting goods company Li Ning Co, which was founded by former Olympic gymnast Li Ning, and also putting three other companies under observation.

Alongside these moves, NBIM is ending the observation of another three companies and revoking the exclusion of a further company, according to the announcement.

At the end of last year, the SWF had NOK1.48bn (€151m) in Li Ning stocks, according to data on NBIM’s website.

The GPFG’s Council on Ethics said it had recommend the Chinese firm be excluded from investment by the NOK11.2trn fund “due to an unacceptable risk that the company is contributing to serious human rights abuses in Xinjiang, China”.

In a statement, it went on to say: “Information published on Chinese websites indicates that Li-Ning in 2017 signed a cooperation agreement with a supplier said to manufacture inside an internment camp.

“The supplier is also said to have taken on many workers via a government-sponsored employment programme targeting ethnic minorities. Li-Ning is furthermore linked to human rights violations through other suppliers,” the panel of advisers wrote.

The council said the ongoing human rights abuses in Xinjiang had been widely reported, so it was well documented, it said, that producing in or buying certain products from the region were associated with a particular risk of becoming involved in forced labour.

“The Council does not have information indicating that Li-Ning has investigated or addressed this risk, and the company has not answered the Council’s requests for information,” it said.

IPE has contacted Li Ning Co asking if the company had any comment on the decision to exclude their equities from the GPFG.

Bombardier, Adani Ports and Hyundai Glovis are going on NBIM’s watch list due to risks of corruption, risks of violations of people’s rights in war or conflict situations, and risks of contributing to human rights violations and environmental damage, respectively, according to the statement from the Norwegian central bank division.

Meanwhile, the asset manager said the South Korean fashion and textile companies Hansae Yes24 Holdings, Hansae and Nien Hsing Textile Co were being removed from observation, because there were no longer any grounds for it, based on Council on Ethics’ investigations.

San Leon Energy, a Dublin-headquartered oil and gas exploration company – which was blacklisted by NBIM since 2016 because of petrol prospecting in Western Sahara – is being reinstated as a potential GPFG investment because those activities have ceased, according to NBIM.

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