The significant financial muscle of Nordic pension funds is being flexed to persuade Tesla to allow collective agreements at its Swedish operation – amid a labour dispute which has sparked sympathy strikes across the region.

PFA, Denmark’s largest pension fund, told IPE yesterday it was signing a collective investor letter to Tesla about the issue, but declined to say whether it might divest its DKK1.9bn (€255m) holding in Tesla.

Rasmus Bessing, chief operating officer of PFA Asset Management, said: “PFA has chosen to be a co-signatory of a letter to the management of Tesla, where we draw attention to the fact that in Sweden and the other Nordic countries there is a long tradition of entering into collective agreements in a large part of the labour market.”

Collective agreements were part of the “flexicurity model” which had been instrumental in creating prosperity and stability in the region, he said.

“As investors in Tesla, we recognise the company’s great contribution to the electrification of the transport sector, but at the same time call on the management to seek a solution to the conflict,” Bessing said.

“It will be best for all parties and the green transition,” he added.

PensionDanmark, which last week divested a DKK476m (€63.8m) Tesla holding, is reported by Danish daily Berlingske to be signing the joint letter to Tesla.

Jan Kæraa Rasmussen, head of ESG and sustainability at the DKK317bn blue-collar pension fund, told IPE: “After a good dialogue with Folksam, which, inter alia, has representatives from Swedish trade unions on its board, we have started this shareholder initiative, which aims to get Tesla to recognise the Nordic labour-market model.”

“We are delighted by the great support we are experiencing, and we expect to be able to publish the letter itself in the course of this week,” he said.

Danish pension fund Pædagogernes Pension (PBU) also divested DKK242m of Tesla shares last week.

Folksam, the SEK527bn (€46.6bn) Swedish pensions and insurance group, is currently involved in as yet unspecified collective investor action regarding the US electric car giant.

A spokeswoman for the Stockholm-based institution, which has close connections with cooperative and trade union organisations, told IPE: “Folksam is in a dialogue with other investors about this, but has not completed it yet”.

A labour dispute in Sweden between Tesla and Swedish trade union IF Metall escalated to a strike on 27 October – action which then triggered sympathy strikes in Sweden as well as Norway and Denmark.

The five Nordic countries have some €1.43trn in pension assets, not including the €1.38trn in Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global.

Many Nordic pension funds have close ties to trade unions.

Tesla has a float-adjusted market capitalisation of $685bn ($635bn) and its shares make up 1.19% of the MSCI World Index.

Assuming index-tracking strategies and average listed equities allocations of 60%, Nordic pension funds could have in the region of $10bn invested in Tesla shares.

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