NETHERLANDS - The €2.8bn industry-wide PNO media pension fund has restructured its socially responsible investment (SRI) policy, and tapped British Telecom's Hermes Equity Ownership Services as external SRI adviser.

The scheme of broadcasting organisation Llink threatened to leave the fund last year after research showed PNO invested in companies involved in arms trade, major pollution and violation of human rights.

Subsequently, PNO - representing 30,000 members across the Dutch media industry - has drafted a new code for socially responsible investing.

The new code means PNO will, next to its listed equity, also publish all the unlisted equity holdings, while expanding its exclusion list with eleven companies involved in the production of arm and nine companies which make or sell products containing fur.

Leo Witkamp, chief executive of the fund, told IPE today a majority within PNO's executive board and members councils decided to include fur in the new SRI policy.

Hermes Equity Ownership Services, a division of the British Telecom (BT) pension fund's investment house Hermes, will conduct research for PNO, to "further fill in the fund's voting policy".

Hermes will monitor the companies in which PNO invests, while testing them to the fund's new SRI code and engaging in dialogue where necessary, said Witkamp.

Witkamp said the fund has had an SRI policy for a number of years, but found after last year's uproar about socially responsible investing among pension funds its policy was not implemented properly while also needed to be extended.

"Where we used to have a policy of one page, we  now have a solid SRI structure," said Witkamp.

According to Witkamp, the cost of this revised strategy is also assessable: "It does not affect the PNO policy."

Llink said in a press statement on its website yesterday it welcomed the changes: "Because PNO will from now on invest the pension money of the broadcasting workers in a responsible way, it is giving the right example to other investment organisations."

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