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PME commits to sustainable trees

NETHERLANDS - PME, €21bn industry-wide pension fund for the metal and electro-technical engineering industry, and Dutch financials giant ING have agreed to adhere to the international certificate for sustainable forestry.

PME, the third largest fund in the Netherlands after ABP and PGGM, and ING yesterday signed a covenant with the Dutch branch of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and international network to promote maintainable tree farming with its international FSC certificate.

PME is the first pension fund to sign such a covenant, agreeing to only use timber and paper coming from responsibly-managed forests.

Hans van der Windt, director of pensions at the fund, commented: "For new investments in forestry in the US, PME has agreed with the managers of the forestry projects that in the next coming years as much as possible will be switched to sustainability, complying with FSC's criteria."

Last October, the scheme announced it had around 30,000 acres of forest in Alabama, Tennessee and Michigan in order to diversify its portfolio, investing 1.5% of its assets in the projects.

The fund views forestry as a relatively stable investment, delivering "interesting" returns.

PME told IPE at the time it was not looking to expand its investment, but if the right plot would come along it would consider increasing the portfolio.

In May last year, PME was one of the first pension funds around the world to sign the Principles for Responsible Investments, designed to persuade institutional investors to a more conscious attitude towards responsible and sustainable investments, including transparency to a broad public.

ABN Amro and Rabobank has already signed earlier covenants with FSC.

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