NORWAY – Norway's ministry of finance is to review the responsible investment guidelines of the NOK3.8trn (€529bn) Pension Fund Global in an effort to strengthen its work in the area.
The announcement comes shortly after Europe's largest institutional investor decided to lift its investment ban on aerospace giant BAE Systems and opted not to blacklist Siemens following allegations of corruption brought against the German company in 2007.
According to the ministry, the fund's work on responsible investment has been "continuously developing" and the report should therefore consider how to best utilise the "collective resources" of all parties involved in its oversight.
The NPFG's responsible investment strategy allows for the exclusion of companies from Norges Bank Investment Management's investment universe in addition to shareholder engagement and the development of best practice disclosure policies.
Sigbjørn Johnsen, the country's finance minister, said the government aimed for the fund's management to "represent best practice in responsible investment".
"Independent, expert advice is an important part of our efforts to develop the fund management further," he said. "Such advice contributes to transparency and debate about important decisions."
The review is being conducted by the five-strong strategy council, which includes former APG head of sustainability and governance Rob Lake.
Lake left the Dutch pension manager in early 2011 to become the director of strategic development at the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment.
Other members are Elroy Dimson, emeritus professor of finance at the London Business School; former Storebrand chief executive Idar Kreutzer; Hege Sjo of Hermes Fund Management; and Laura Starks, a trustee of the College Retirement Equities Fund, part of the $495bn (€385bn) TIAA-CREF.
Demonstrating its approach to responsible investment, the ministry of finance last week confirmed it had barred two US companies due to their involvement with nuclear weapons production.
Babcock & Wilcox Co and Jacobs Engineering Group were earmarked for exclusion by the fund's council on ethics late last year.
At the same time, the UK's BAE Systems and Italy's Finmeccanica were re-introduced into NBIM's investment universe after an eight-year exclusion, following the company's acquisition of a controlling interest in nuclear missile manufacturer MBDA.
The ministry also formally concluded its observation of Siemens, triggered by a number of corruption allegations brought against former members of the company's board in 2009.
Explaining the decision not to blacklist Siemens, a statement from the ministry said: "During the observation period, Siemens had demonstrated both a willingness and an ability to transform the company's culture by designing and implementing an entirely new monitoring and compliance system, putting into action recommendations by the company's control unit on an ongoing basis and communicating clearly a zero tolerance for corruption."