DENMARK - Pædagogernes Pensionskasse (PBU), the Danish pension fund for education practitioners, is engaging with five companies operating in Burma about its concerns over ethical matters.

Officials at the pension fund have written letters to Total, Chevron, PetroChina, Suzuki and Siemens in their capacity as shareholders, in the hope engagement with firms based in the region might help to improve the human rights situation recently experienced by Burmese residents.
"The purpose of the letters is to emphasise PBU's opinion that it is important for businesses PBU invests in, to live up to a range of basic ethical values concerning human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption matters," the fund said in a statement.

These values were expressed in the 10 principles of the UN Global Compact, to which PBU had committed itself, it said. The UN Global Compact is a framework for businesses pledging to align operations with key ethical principles.

In each of the five letters, PBU pointed out, as a pension fund, it had 100,000 members and a balance of US$6bn, with an annual cashflow of US$600m to be invested in assets worldwide.

PBU currently has DKK27m (€3.6m) invested in Total shares, DKK29m in Chevron, DKK28m in PetroChina, DKK7m in Suzuki and DKK8m in Siemens, a spokesman for the fund revealed.

Companies concerned were told PBU had learned of their activities connected to Burma and noted a number of Danish pension funds had recently disposed of their stocks in these firms.

"The Burmese regime is known for violations of human rights and lately for a rough handing of political demonstrators to such an extent that we as a stockholder in Siemens are concerned (about) the reputation of your company," it said in its letter to Siemens.

PBU went on to ask each company to provide information on the Burmese activities, and on how the company's presence in the country contributed to improvement of the social and political situation.

There has been substantial correspondence in recent weeks between Danish pension funds and firms based in Burma after the Danish voiced its own concerns about organisations investing in Burmese operations.

Elsewhere, Sweden's KPA Pensions - KPA Pension is 60% owned by Folksam and 40% by Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions. - has also been engaging with Total about its position in Burma.

KPA is thought to be the first company in Sweden to publicly raise concerns about Total's role in Burma and the firm has threatened to withdraw its 160,000 share or SEK80m (€8.45m) investment in the company.

The firm is responsible for managing the pensions of over one million Swedish residents.

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