NETHERLANDS - The €88bn health care pension fund PGGM is withdrawing its €37m investments in oil company PetroChina, because of the firm's human rights violations in Sudan.

The pressure brought by the pension fund through extensive engagement with PetroChina to improve its practices has failed to produce the desired result, PGGM said in a statement.

According to PGGM, PetroChina's parent company - state-owned CNPC - is involved in human rights violations in Sudan. "And as the largest player in the Sudanese oil industry, CNPC is also a major financer of the Sudanese government, which commits human rights violations on a wide scale."

CNPC has not taken adequate steps to avoid involvement in these humans rights violations, or to contribute to resolving human rights issues in this country, the scheme pointed out.

It is the first time PGGM has taken such action after an intensive dialogue with a company.

At the same time, the pension fund decided to exclude four more companies from its investment list, because of their involvement in controversial weapons, it said.

The excluded companies are US-based EDO and McDermott for involvement in nuclear weapons and Goodrich for involvement in cluster bombs, PGGM spokesman David Uitdenbogaard said.

The fourth excluded firm is the South Korean Hanwha, which is involved in cluster bombs and land mines, he added.

PGGM's policy is to exclude immediately companies that are involved in the trade or manufacturing of weapons of mass destruction, or weapons that continue to harm or kill civilians after a military conflict has ended.

The fund made clear that it engages in dialogue on human rights with dozens of companies.

As of 1 January, PGGM is the pensions administrator and asset manager of the Pensioenfonds Zorg en Welzijn. It manages the pension assets of over 2m employees and former employees in the healthcare and social work sector.

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