SAUL Trustee appoints Ensign’s Applegarth as chief executive

first_imgThe SAUL Trustee Company has appointed Sue Applegarth as chief executive, replacing Penny Green, who is to retire at the end of the year.Applegarth is currently chairman of Ensign Pension Administration but is to leave her role as the third-party administrator was recently sold to consultancy JLT Employee Benefits.She will take up her role at beginning of November, with Green stepping down at the end of 2014 after 14 years as chief executive.SAUL Trustee Company provides trustee and administration services to the £1.9bn Superannuation Arrangements of the University of London (SAUL), a pension arrangement for non-academic staff of the University of London and associated companies. It also provides third-party administration services to pension schemes in the higher education and publishing sectors, under the brand STC Pension Management.Applegarth has been at Ensign since 2002, when the company was called MNPA and was the in-house administration team for the Merchant Navy Officers’ Pension Fund (MNOPF), while also offering third-party services.In 2013, MNPA rebranded its third-party services as Ensign before the administration arm was sold to JLT EB.last_img read more

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Lancashire, London pension funds get go-ahead for partnership

first_imgThe Lancashire County Pension Fund (LCPF) and the London Pensions Fund Authority (LPFA) will push ahead with their partnership after both boards approved the plans.The local government pension schemes (LGPS), situated some 230 miles apart, will now create a so-called asset liability management partnership, to be known as the Lancashire and London Pensions Partnership (LLPP).With combined assets of £10.5bn (€14.8bn), the pair will maintain separate governance structures, with oversight boards in both London and Preston, but merge investments, liability management and administration.Negotiation with asset managers on fee reduction will begin as the pair merge mandates and look to save £32m within five years. The pair said its structure was set up to allow other schemes to join.They will also aim to set up an asset pool, authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), by April 2016.Susan Martin, chief executive at the £4.8bn LPFA, said the partnership was another step to towards reducing LGPS costs, in addition to other measures such as the London funds’ collective investment vehicle – which is also looking to merge mandates.Cost has been an increasing focus within the local government sector as schemes await central government plans on whether to force passive investments-only for listed assets.The £32m in savings would come from renegotiations with asset managers, moving some asset management in-house, direct investments and merging the back office.Lancashire has just over half of its assets with 12 external managers, while the LPFA uses 38 managers for a significant majority of its assets.The London scheme paid £32.8m in investment manager fees, with £495,000 for its in-house team, in 2013-14. Lancashire spent £11.3m.LLPP said the location of investment and administration functions would remain split between London and Preston but over time would shift between the two.The chief executive and CIO positions will be decided on once a non-executive board is in place and the partnership wins FCA authorisation.George Graham, director of the £5.7bn Lancashire scheme, said it would depend on the business model as the venture develops.He added that the efficiencies envisaged did not necessarily entail job losses.“The people who will suffer in terms of [the partnership] are not necessarily our staff but our fund managers through the renegotiating of fees,” he said. “We have sound figures we are confident of.”Martin said both schemes were keen to provide a better value-for-money proposition for its members and sponsoring employers – and that the scale would make this easier.“If an organisation wants to reduce costs, it is about ensuring efficient processes,” she said.“This means doing it in-house when you have the scale and expertise and [merging] back-office processes.”Both schemes currently have in-house asset management teams, with the LPFA known for its focus on equities and Lancashire for its focus on infrastructure.The LLPP said it expected investment teams at both schemes to grow as a result of the partnership, given their complementary nature.It also has no intention of bringing all of its assets in-house.“The partnership is between Lancashire and London, but also about collaboration between our suppliers like external fund managers,” Martin added. “We are not saying we’re going to do everything in-house, and we are looking to continue relationships with a partnership approach.”last_img read more

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Estonia relaxes investment laws for pension funds

first_imgEstonia’s Parliament (Riigikogu) has relaxed a number of pension fund investment rules in line with draft proposals brought forward last year that will apply to mandatory second-pillar pension funds.The Investment Funds Amendments Act, initiated by the government, raises the limit of pension fund investment in unquoted securities from 10% to 30% of portfolios, allowing them to invest more in Estonian companies.However, the overall 75% limit for investing in equity-based assets remains.This limit does not include real estate investments, a change to existing law that had already recently been made. The 10% limit on pension fund shareholdings in individual companies has also been abolished, so pension funds can now own up to 100% of any company. The ban on investing in precious metals and related securities has been lifted; pension funds can now invest up to 5% of their portfolios in the asset class.The rules on real estate investing largely remain the same – for instance, real estate is limited to 40% of the assets of a mandatory pension fund and 70% for a voluntary (third-pillar) fund.However, the limit for mandatory pension scheme investment in single properties has been increased from 2% to 5% of the portfolio.The above changes take effect from 17 July.A complete overhaul of pension fund law is also planned, to take effect in 2016, and will include changes to the rules on pension fund structure.Voluntary pension funds will be able to create multiple classes of units, for instance, with different fee structures.At present, all pension fund units can be redeemed at any time, although there is an income tax charge where the unit holder redeems units before reaching the age of 55.The new law will permit asset managers to issue a class of units that cannot be redeemed before a certain age, specified in the pension fund conditions.This change is intended to help incentivise employers to make contributions to their employees’ pension plans.The planned overhaul will also include measures encouraging Estonia’s development as a fund domicile.It will enable different fund frameworks to be established, such as a common fund, a fund founded as a public limited company and a fund founded as a limited partnership.The last of these is designed mainly for private equity and venture capital investments.The new legislation will also protect the rights of retail investors, with compliance monitored by the Financial Supervision Authority.However, the supervision of funds aimed at professional investors will be waived to reduce the administrative burden, placing more of an obligation on investors themselves to monitor the activities of management companies.Silja Saar, executive director at Danske Capital AS and head of the Estonian Fund Managers’ Association, said: “The amendments aim to broaden local pension funds’ opportunities in investing in less liquid and non-listed instruments.  “Fund managers have welcomed this initiative, as it takes into consideration the local market’s specifics and therefore potentially enlarges the list of local investments available for pension funds.“However, rapid and drastic changes in pension fund strategies or daily management shouldn’t be anticipated, as this is also a matter of realistically available instruments that would match with pension fund risk profiles and higher governance expectations.”last_img read more

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General Electric mulls launch of cross-border IORP

first_imgExxonMobil was also considering a move to Belgium.Den Bakker said the Dutch sponsor and employee representatives were now considering future options for the Dutch fund, which has €290m in assets.She added that the sponsor was awaiting a decision from employee representatives, and that, once their stance became clear, the fund’s future would be evaluated.The move comes after the Dutch fund suffered a decline in membership – nearly halving from 1,034 at the end of 2013 to around 650 – after GE sold off part of its Dutch business and moved production out of the country.Plans to transfer the pension benefits of employees at GE Artesia Bank, a provider of trade finance, to the main GE scheme were abandoned after they proved infeasible, Den Bakker said.GE Artesia Bank was recently revealed as one of the firms discussing the launch of a new ‘general pension fund’, or APF, covering companies within the financial sector.GE Pensioenfonds had close to 2,000 members at the end of 2014.As of late June, its policy coverage ratio stood at 105.6%.GE declined to comment when approached by IPE sister publication Pensioen Pro. General Electric is considering the launch of a cross-border pension fund based in Belgium.The plans, mentioned in the Dutch GE Pensioenfonds 2014 annual report, could see future accrual for several European countries shift to a Belgium-domiciled vehicle, according to pension fund chair Yvonne den Bakker.GE is the latest company to consider the launch of a cross-border fund for its Dutch scheme.Aon Netherlands recently angered employees after deciding to establish a vehicle in Brussels despite its workers’ council still debating the move.last_img read more

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MEPs call on European Commission to explain accounting reforms

first_imgFurther details have emerged of the challenges the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) faces in its battle to win credibility among politicians in Europe.Two leading members of the European Parliament, Syed Kamall and Sven Giegold, have called on the European Commission to explain the procedures it has followed to the possible adoption of a new financial instruments accounting standard in the European Union (EU).Separately, a source close to the issue has revealed that the expectation among even the most ardent opponents of the London-based IASB is that the EU will eventually endorse International Financial Reporting Standard 9, Financial Instruments.The reluctance of the Parliament to exercise its veto, however, could come as part of a trade-off that could see MEPs approve a highly critical motion on the IASB and its parents body, the IFRS Foundation. In a letter dated 16 July obtained by IPE, the MEPs detail seven demands for the Commission to meet to satisfy them they should support IFRS 9.The parliamentarians want the Commission to explain why it has failed to produce clear guidelines on the meaning of ‘the public good’ and ‘the true and fair view principle’.They are concerned the Commission has no apparent plan to carry out a thorough impact assessment on either the measurement or impairment requirements of IFRS 9.They warn that a knock-on effect of banks squirrelling away more capital could be that small and medium-sized enterprises will find it harder to secure loan financing. In addition, the MEPs also advise that long-term investors might find “equity investments less attractive”.The parliamentarians also want the European Systemic Risk Board to comment on whether the impairment and measurement requirements could have procyclical or other implications for financial stability.They called on the Commission to explain how it would address the concerns raised by the EU’s technical advisers on accounting issues that fair-value measurement requirements under IFRS 9 are “problematic”, particularly in relation to dividends and transparency for investors.They said they needed more information about how banks would implement the new proposals, and, lastly, they want the Commission to explain how IFRS 9 would interact with prudential requirements such as the International Regulatory Framework for Banks (Basel III).The demands are linked to increasing agitation in the EU in many quarters over the bloc’s decision to outsource its standard-setting functions to the IFRS Foundation, a Delaware-based quango.Reform of financial instruments accounting has been a hot-button topic since the financial crisis.Critics of the IASB’s current financial-instruments accounting model claim it resulted in banks recognising losses on underwater loans too late.The principles for recognising and measuring financial assets, liabilities and some contracts to buy or sell non-financial items are currently set out in IAS 39.The IASB has been working on a replacement standard, IFRS 9, since 2009. This effort was originally a joint effort with the US FASB.The US standard setter walked away from the effort largely because of irreconcilable differences with the IASB on the issue of impairment, the process by which losses or likely losses on amortised cost financial assets are written down.Against this background, former EU internal market commission Michel Barnier instructed Philippe Maystadt to look at how the EU could enhance its influence on the IASB’s processes.Maystadt also looked at the ways the EU could improve governance of the European bodies involved in developing these standards.Maystadt delivered his findings to an ECOFIN Council meeting on 15 November 2013. His recommendations received wide support from EU member states.IFRSs are currently mandated for use by all listed companies across the bloc. Under the current endorsement mechanism, the Commission receives advice on the suitability of individual IFRSs for endorsement from the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG).EFRAG also works with European national standard setters on outreach activities designed to stimulate debate among interested parties in Europe on accounting matters.In addition, the Commission receives advice from the SARG or Standards Advice Review Group. On the basis of this advice, the Commission presents a draft regulation to the Accounting Regulatory Committee for approval.The Accounting Regulatory Committee is made up of representatives drawn from individual member states with the Commission as its chair.Subsequently, both the European Council and the Parliament assess whether the Commission has complied with the EU’s accounting directive or not.Effectively, this endorsement mechanism gives a veto to the Commission, the Parliament and the ARC. The Parliament has yet to exercise its veto over an IFRS.Meanwhile, well-placed sources close to the issue have told IPE they do not expect the Parliament to block IFRS 9 – despite recent sabre rattling.Speaking on condition of anonymity, the sources explained that, because IFRS 9 is a delegated act under EU procedure, this means the Parliament is unable to amend it. Instead, it must either accept it or reject it.What is likely, however, is that the Parliament will vote on a non-binding own-initiative resolution of its ECON Committee that could be highly critical of both the IFRS Foundation and the IASB’s standards.IPE has also learned that this report could possibly make reference to the recent opinion of George Bompas QC, in which he questioned the legality of IFRS accounts in the UK.Alongside George Bompas, both the Basel Committee and the Bank of England have raised concerns about IFRS 9.IASB chairman Hans Hoogervorst has previously attempted to sell IFRS 9 as an escape hatch for underwater Greek government debt.Addressing the July 2011 IFRS annual conference, Hoogervorst said: “The endorsement of IFRS by Europe has been extremely important for IFRS.“We still have a small problem now with IFRS 9. There are many people who now think they should adopt it quickly because it gives a little bit more leeway in terms of the Greek government bonds.“Right now, most of them are held available for sale. If you impair them, you have to impair them at the going market rate – not very high, I believe, 30% – whereas, if they are at amortised cost, as IFRS 9 makes possible, then you still have the possibility of making at least some sort of judgement.”last_img read more

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Icelandic pension funds shift sharply into direct mortgage investment

first_imgIceland’s pension funds have expanded their investment in domestic mortgage debt sharply since the beginning of this year, as the state mortgage provider retreats from the sector.Multi-employer pension fund Frjalsi, for example, has increased its mortgage debt investment to around 5% of its €1.4bn in total assets in September, from 2% in the first two months of this year.Pension funds have traditionally offered top-up mortgages to their members but say they are now increasing this business mainly as a result of demand for mortgages increasing in the country.The pension funds said the Housing Financing Fund (HFF), an independent government institution that has traditionally been the main provider of mortgage loans in Iceland, has been reducing its mortgage lending in recent years. Marinó Örn Tryggvason, CIO at Frjalsi Pension Fund, told IPE: “Pension funds have been gaining market share both at the cost of the banks and the government’s HFF.”Late last year and early this year, he said, some of the pension funds changed their mortgage pricing strategies because they wanted to try out this market.He said the HFF’s shrinking share of the mortgage market may be because it had priced itself out of the market.But some see this retreat as a political move to reduce government-backed financing in the Icelandic economy, which could fall foul of EU rules on state aid.Iceland belongs to the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), but its position regarding accession to the EU is contentious, with the country having applied for membership in 2009, and put negotiations on hold in 2013.A general election is expected to take place on 29 October following anti-government protests earlier this year after the then prime minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson was caught up in the Panama Papers scandal.Kristjana Sigurðardóttir, CIO at Almenni Pension Fund, told IPE: “Mortgages for pension members has been increasing in the past few years, and this year, it has more than doubled at Almenni.”Traditionally, individuals in Iceland have been granted the vast majority of their mortgage loans by the HFF and have only topped this up by a small proportion from their pension funds, if at all, she said.“But now the pension funds have been stepping deeper into that market,” she said.“The banks are unhappy pension funds have been making such big inroads into the mortgage market and have taken this issue up with the regulator.”She said the regulator would be unlikely to restrict pension funds in this market, as that would reduce consumer choice.The HFF’s mortgage lending activity has decreased in tandem with its bond issuance.Pension funds have been one of the main buyers of HFF bonds, so the disappearance of these instruments has been part of reason the savings institutions have been seeking other forms of fixed income investment.Tryggvason said HFF bonds had previously made up the lion’s share of pension funds’ fixed income investments.He predicted the general shift of mortgage lending to pension funds would probably continue.“For Frjalsi, our exposure is very likely to go up to more than 10% next year,” he said.As investments, direct mortgage lending generates higher returns than Icelandic government bonds, being priced at approximately 1 percentage point above yields on government notes.But it is also considered a safe investment, since the average loan-to-value allowed on the home loans is between 50% and 65%, Tryggvason says.last_img read more

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AP1 boosts defences in first half with shift out of equities

first_imgMagnusson also warned against focusing too much on the pension fund’s short-term investment performance.“Sometimes the world outside has expectations that the AP funds should immediately take action solely against short-term losses,” he said.“This risks reducing the opportunities for decision makers on all levels in management organisations to exploit one of our most important comparative advantages – our ability to act long-term,” Magnusson said.Equities produced a 1.9% profit overall for AP1 in the first half, with Swedish shares returning 6.2%. However, emerging markets shares made a 0.7% loss.Fixed income investments made a 0.1% loss.Real estate, however, made a 7.5% return, and infrastructure gained 2.5%.Venture capital funds generated 8.2% in the period, but hedge funds ended June with a 4.2% loss over six months.Between January and June, AP1’s exposure to equities slimmed to 35.7% of its portfolio from 37.9%, while fixed income securities grew to 33.7% from 31.7%.Within equities, the pension fund’s allocation to emerging markets equities increased slightly to 14.7% from 14.2%, while the allocations to both Swedish and developed markets equities were reduced.Total assets increased to SEK337.5bn (€32.9bn) by the end of June, from SEK332.5bn at the end of December 2017, after SEK3.3bn was transferred to the pension system.Magnusson said the new set of investment rules governing the four main AP funds, due to come into force on 1 January next year, would improve the funds’ conditions for being able to reach their return target.This was the first step in the modernisation of the investment guidelines, he said.“It is now important that the next step is taken, which will define the opportunities for direct investments in unlisted assets such as infrastructure companies, illiquid credit and joint investments in unlisted companies,” he said. Swedish state pensions buffer fund AP1 made a defensive shift in the first half of this year, reducing its equity exposure and increasing the fixed income allocation to protect its portfolio from the risk of weakening markets.In its financial report for the first half of this year, the fund reported a 2.5% return on investments, compared to the 9.6% return achieved for the whole of 2017.Johan Magnusson, chief executive of the Stockholm-based fund, said in the report: “[AP1] has taken small steps in the first half of the year towards a somewhat more defensive portfolio orientation.”There were no big shifts, he said, but the changes made indicated that AP1 recognised the current late stage of the economic cycle and the fact that the risks of a weaker market trend had increased.last_img read more

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Dutch reforms feasible without pensions accord, say experts

first_imgDutch pension funds could introduce a sustainable pensions contract without the need for a high-level agreement or new legislation, several experts have claimed.According to Mercer, the existing legislation for bringing in an improved defined contribution plan (Wet Verbeterde Premieregeling, or WVP) – with its option of variable benefits – already offered sufficient leeway for new sustainable pension arrangements in line with those discussed by unions, employers and government.Last week, negotiations about pensions reform between the three parties broke down amid disagreement on secondary issues, including increasing the state pension age and bringing self-employed workers, or zzp’ers, into the pension system.Other experts have backed up Mercer’s view, with Erik Lutjens, professor of pensions law at Amsterdam’s Free University (VU), arguing that government legislation was also not crucial for accommodating zzp’ers in the second pillar. The WVP already complied with the conditions of a “simpler, tailor-made, flexible and sufficient pension”, as set out by Jetta Klijnsma, the former state secretary for pensions, at the start of the nationwide dialogue for a new pensions system in 2015, according to actuary Marc Heemskerk.Speaking last week at a pensions seminar hosted by his employer Mercer, Heemskerk said that the current defined contribution (DC) pension plan offered by Shell Netherlands – comprising an accrual and a benefits phase but including the elements of collectivity and solidarity favoured by the unions – could act as a blueprint for a new system.Heemskerk suggested switching to a pensions system with collective accrual for individual pension capital in a DC scheme in a pool, with participants having the option of picking their individual investment mix.He highlighted that, in the accrual phase, such a “DC plan with investment choice” would lack the often disputed elements of financial buffers and discount rate for liabilities.On the other hand, participants could benefit from the strong points in the current system, such as investment scale and solidarity through sharing investment risk, mortality risk and labour disability risk, according to the actuary.In his concept, participants’ accrued individual pension rights would be gradually shifted to the benefits pool – with diversified investments and less risk exposure – between the age of 57 and 67.If they had not opted to participate in the benefits pool beforehand, they could use their capital at retirement to shop around for benefits from an insurer, explained Heemskerk.Dutch-Canadian pensions expert Keith Ambachtsheer has also voiced support for a “simpler and more adequate” pensions system with a pool for returns and a ‘safety’ pool. Theo Kocken, CardanoTheo Kocken, founder of Cardano and professor of risk management at the VU, has proposed such a set up as well. When asked by IPE, he argued that the benefits pool with shared longevity risk would be possible under the current financial assessment framework (FTK).Accrual in the return pool could take place “with less complexity and less discount rate discussions, and with less distrust among participants as a result”, he said, adding that “the options for tailor-made investments would increase”.Kocken also highlighted that pension funds could implement both pools under the current rules for mandatory participation in a pension fund.Discount rateHeemskerk also suggested that the discount rate for liabilities – currently the market rate topped up with an ultimate forward rate (UFR) – could be replaced with the higher European UFR for insurers, which he described as “an objective quantity”.He said that the application of EIOPA’s UFR would raise the average coverage ratio of Dutch pension funds from 108.6% to 114.2% at the moment.In his opinion, such an increase would not be irresponsible “as the minimum required funding, and the trigger for rights cuts, for Dutch pension funds was 104.3%, rather than 100%”.Recently, Gabriel Bernardino, chairman of EIOPA, indicated that pension funds could also apply the European UFR for insurers, as long as it complied with the local supervisory framework.However, both Dutch regulator DNB and social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees have opposed the introduction of the European UFR for pension funds, with DNB even advising insurers to be cautious using the EIOPA rate.Retirement ageThe Netherlands’ state pension (AOW) age has been set by the government at 67 and three months from 2022, with subsequent rises linked to longevity – a decision strongly opposed by trade unions.Heemskerk suggested that the dispute could be solved by taking 66 as the standard retirement age for workers facing a low pension income, usually people in hard physical jobs.AOW benefits for people with better pensions perspectives should be proportionally discounted if they decided to take their occupational pension earlier than their retirement age for the AOW, he proposed.Self-employedAt the seminar, Heemskerk also said he supported mandatory pensions accrual for self-employed workers “unless they can prove that they have sufficient pensions assets in, for example, their home or their company”.Erik Lutjens, said a high-level pensions agreement was not needed for providing zzp’ers with access to second pillar pensions.Instead, he said it could be achieved through a “simple legal change” aimed at allowing pension funds and low-cost DC vehicles (PPI) to implement pension plans for self-employed workers. The IORP II pensions directive already provided for this, he said.As an alternative, zzp’ers could be forced to join an industry-wide pension fund in their sector, Lutjens said.Meanwhile, the Dutch government has said it doesn’t expect negotiations about pensions reform to restart soon.The largest trade union FNV, for its turn, has announced industrial action, with police officers and port labourers interrupting work for 66 minutes on 13 December.Its aim is to put pressure on the government coalition through the provincial elections in March, as the county councils will then elect the new Dutch senate.last_img read more

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UK public pension pool preps £2bn corporate bond fund

first_imgLGPS Central is looking for active managers to run a £2bn (€2.2bn) global investment grade corporate bond fund.The tender, aided by IPE Quest, marks the latest step in the pooling of assets held by the consortium’s nine local authority pension fund members. Together they have £40bn in assets under management.The corporate bond tender is in line with previously outlined plans to roll out a number of pooled fixed income funds next year.According to the IPE Quest notice for the corporate bond tender, LGPS Central was looking for managers to be able to demonstrate a “consistent, robust, repeatable investment process” and an actively managed portfolio. Responsible investment would need to be part of the investment process and full transparency on a look-through basis would need to be provided with the fund’s custodian.The pension manager was also looking for a “low cost, fully transparent, value for money” offering.Third parties have been invited to tender through a pre-qualification questionnaire process. Successful applications would then be invited to complete a request for proposal before a “competitive dialogue” during final interviews and selection.LGPS Central specified that interested parties should tender using only the following e-mail address: [email protected] deadline for submitting pre-qualification questionnaires is 10 December at noon UK time.Since receiving regulatory authorisation in January, LGPS Central has launched three pooled equity funds and announced the managers of another equity fund, which together are expected to hold £14bn of investments from its partner local government pension scheme (LGPS) funds.When the procurement process for LGPS Central’s global active equity multi-manager fund was under way 150 fund  managers from across the world expressed an initial interest in tendering for the mandate.The IPE news team is unable to answer any further questions about IPE Quest, Discovery, or Innovation tender notices to protect the interests of clients conducting the search. To obtain information directly from IPE Quest, please contact Jayna Vishram on +44 (0) 20 3465 9330 or email [email protected]last_img read more

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ESG roundup: Another investor culls tobacco firms

first_imgSwedish pension and insurance company Länsförsäkringar has divested from all tobacco producers, citing negative health, social and environmental impacts.The company said that tobacco firms had become an increasingly poor investment choice over recent years, but also often disregarded workers’ rights and impacted the environment negatively.Christina Kusoffsky, head of sustainability at Länsförsäkringar, said: “Many may think more about the health problems, but tobacco producers also threaten the environment and biodiversity.“Two thirds of the world’s tobacco is grown in emerging markets. An estimated 200,000 hectares of forest, primarily rainforest, are harvested every year for the benefit of tobacco cultivation and for drying the leaves.” The tobacco cull applies to Länsförsäkringar’s direct investments and its own funds, and includes companies such as Imperial Tobacco Group, Swedish Match and Philip Morris International.The company has also excluded mining company Vale from its investment universe, in the wake of a fatal Brazilian dam collapse in January.Länsförsäkringar said Vale was considered to be among the top 100 greenhouse gas emitters in the world, and also claimed that it had violated human rights conventions.In addition, questions about the condition of other dams controlled by Vale remained unanswered by the company, the Swedish group said.Energy firms review climate lobbying after investor pressure Credit: RWEA coal-fired power plant run by RWE in Westfalen, GermanyAP7 has hailed a “big success” for collaborative efforts with other shareholders in two German companies after they pledged to address concerns about industry lobby groups and climate change.German energy company RWE and German chemicals firm BASF have pledged to put higher demands on the industry groups to which they belong.AP7 – one of Sweden’s largest pension funds – said: “An important key to achieving this success was that several European institutional owners collaborated, not least the German firm Union Investment, which pushed the issue during the general meetings of RWE and BASF.”The pension fund said it had moved its focus to Europe, after driving demand for greater transparency around lobbying in the US for a number of years.AP7 said it had also received an agreement from Germany’s HeidelbergCement, stating that it would review its climate lobbying.Other companies now working to increase the transparency of their lobbying activities include mining companies BHP, Anglo American and Rio Tinto, and oil giant Shell, the fund said.AP7 acknowledged that it would be easier for an institutional investor to avoid such companies by simply selling shares, but emphasised that it was more important to influence them in the right direction instead.last_img read more

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