Norway-Global excludes Israeli defence firm
NORWAY - The Government Pension Fund - Global has divested a NOK35.8m (€4.1m) holding in the Israeli company Elbit systems following a recommendation by the Council of Ethics over "violations of international humanitarian law".
Elbit Systems was assessed against the ethical guidelines for the investment of the NOK2.47trn Government Pension Fund - Global, in relation to its involvement in Israel's construction of a separation barrier in occupied territory on the West Bank.
The Norwegian Council of Ethics said the surveillance system Elbit supplies to the Israeli authorities is one of the man components of the barrier and the control regime, and has been designed specially for its purpose with no other application, while Elbit is aware of exactly where and how the system will be used.
The Council told the Ministry of Finance: "The construction of parts of the barrier may be considered to constitute violations of international law, and Elbit, through its supply contract, is thus helping to sustain these violations. The Council considers the [Norway-Global] Fund's investment in Elbit to constitute an unacceptable risk of complicity in serious violations of fundamental ethical norms."
Kristin Halvorsen, minister of finance, said: "We do not wish to fund companies that so directly contribute to violations of international humanitarian law. It is important to stress that the decision to exclude this company is not linked to the nationality of the company."
While the fund can no longer invest in this company, the government has confirmed two companies had been reinstated to the pension fund's investment universe following actions that made the earlier exclusions invalid.
Thales SA, the aerospace and defence technology firm, had previously been excluded from the pension scheme investments over the manufacture and sale of cluster munitions. However, the Council of Ethics agreed to reverse the exclusion after Thales confirmed it had ceased all involvement with this product in all countries and subsidiaries.
And DRD Gold, which was originally removed from the investment universe over environmental concerns relating to the disposal of waste from mines in Papua New Guinea and Fiji is back on the possible investment list as it has now disposed of its holdings and connections with the specific mines.
Elsewhere, the Statens Pensjonskasse (SPK), Norway's state pension fund, has appointed Promis AS as overall project manager for the PERFORM pension project.
Reforms to the Norwegian pension system, including a five-year increase in the retirement age of the old age section of the national insurance scheme are expected to come into effect in 2011, and the PERFORM project will oversee the necessary changes to work processes, pension systems and practices as day-to-day operations will need to continue despite the reforms. (See earlier IPE articles: SPK awards IT contracts for pension reform and Norway appoints actuary for pension reform)
SPK manages pension schemes for workers employed by the government, state-owned businesses and large parts of the teaching and research sector, with almost one million members spread across 1,600 businesses and assets of around NOK330bn (€38.3bn).
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