NORWAY - The Ministry of Finance has announced that UK firm Livingstone & Company will provide research on companies included in the investment portfolio of the NOK 2.38trn (€264.2bn) Government Pension Fund - Global that may be in conflict with its ethical guidelines.

A tender notice for the framework agreement, valued at NOK 1.5m, was issued on behalf of the Council of Ethics in February, alongside two additional searches for a provider of ethical screening of the pension fund's investments. (See earlier IPE article: Norway tenders ethical research mandate)

Livingstone & Company was awarded the contract over 23 other providers, and its responsibilities include completing desk studies relating to "specific matters of interest regarding companies in the fund which may have activities in conflict with the fund's ethical guidelines".

These may include research on company and joint venture structures, and information gathering relating to incidents involving human rights violations, environmental damage or corruption.

The contract was awarded in June, and was based on quality and price of the tender, although the Council of Ethics did seek specialist requirements including language skills in English, Spanish and Mandarin, alongside knowledge of emerging markets and business sectors such as industrials, oil and gas.

Earlier this month Norges Bank revealed the value of the government pension fund - global had reached a record level of NOK 2.38trn following four consecutive months of increases, although at the same time the government is beginning its review of the active management element of the portfolio after it reported significant falls in 2008. (See earlier IPE articles: Norway Global gains lead to record assets and Norway prepares review of active management)

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