NETHERLANDS - The €7.5bn occupational pension fund for general practitioners (SPH) in the Netherlands has stood by its investment in products that are widely considered to be a health hazard.

Responding to a recent report in financial news daily Het Financieele Dagblad (FD), which pointed out that the SPH had acquired more than 4,000 additional shares in British American Tobacco (BAT), the scheme confirmed the investment and pointed out that it decided not to exclude tobacco from its portfolio.

In a statement, it said: "We have outsourced our asset management to external managers, who have the discretion to invest in tobacco. We regularly look into the ethical aspects of investments, and the issues of health, food safety and access to medication get special attention."

Although the SPH does exclude the manufacturers of cluster bombs and land mines from its investments, it currently does not exclude companies involved in tobacco, alcohol or "fattening" products, it said.

It added: "We have invested in these companies to the same extent as other pension funds."

According to the FD, the value of the SPH's investment in BAT has increased by 10% since its recent purchase.

The pension fund declined to comment on individual investments.

With a funding of 128.4% at June-end, the scheme is currently one of the best performers in the Netherlands.