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Renamed Norwegian fund excludes seven firms

NORWAY – Boeing and BAE Systems are among seven companies excluded from Norway’s NOK1.28trn (€161.3bn) Government Pension Fund (formerly the Petroleum Fund) by the Norwegian Finance Ministry due to their involvement in the production of nuclear weapons.

Other companies include Finmeccanica, Honeywell International, Northrop Grumman, Safran and United Technologies.

The exclusions – based on recommendations by the Ethics Council – saw a disinvestment by the fund in the companies amounting to roughly NOK3.3bn.

The disinvestment “is not earmarked for specific companies remaining in the benchmark/investment universe of the Fund,” a spokesperson told IPE.

The fund – established at the start of this year following legislation last year – is a continuation of the Petroleum Fund.

“According to the ethical guidelines for the Government Pension Fund – Global, companies that produce weapons that through normal use may violate fundamental humanitarian principles shall be excluded from the fund,” said a Ministry of Finance press statement released today.

The seven companies were each given an opportunity to clarify their involvement in the production of nuclear weapons, but only Northrop Grumman confirmed such involvement in a letter to Norges Bank, said the spokesperson.

According to the Finance Ministry, the list of nuclear weapons manufacturers outlined in the Ethics Council’s recommendations is not exhaustive.

“New exclusions may be called for at a later stage,” it added.

In April last year, the Ethics Council was also asked to investigate whether investment by the fund in oil and gas giant Total breached ethical guidelines due to its operations in Burma.

While the Council concluded that Total was probably aware of – and did little to prevent - human rights violations connected with the construction of its pipeline in the late 1990’s, the ethical guidelines are forward looking, and do not involve the expulsion of companies for past unethical behaviour.

“The Council on Ethics has done thorough work with its recommendations, which gives a solid basis for the decision-making process in the Ministry. The framework that is established for cases of possible exclusions from the Pension Fund contribute to reaching sound decisions,” said Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen.

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