Norway’s largest private money manager, Storebrand Asset Management, excluded and divested itself of more than two dozen listed companies under its new climate change policy, citing concerns with lobbying, coal and oil sands.
The investment firm, a unit of insurer Storebrand ASA with around $91 billion under management, said Monday it sold off more than $47 million in 21 companies and excluded another six from future investments.
Storebrand’s decision comes as more investors in Europe and abroad have called for polluting companies to align their lobbying and businesses with the Paris Agreement on climate change, with some threatening to divest.
Under its new policy, Storebrand said it would no longer invest in companies that earn more than 5% of revenue from coal or oil sands or that lobby against the Paris Agreement, among other criteria. The companies Storebrand exited from are mostly in oil and gas and the broader energy sector.
Jan Erik Saugestad, chief executive of Storebrand AM, said in an interview that the companies the firm divested itself of aren’t on track to transition to a lower-carbon economy and are too risky in the long term.
“Companies that don’t recognize climate risk or do not seize those opportunities are, in our mind, less attractive,” he said.
Big names Storebrand exited from due to their lobbying activities were U.S. oil-and-gas giants
Mobil Corp. and
German chemical maker
and Australian miner Rio Tinto Ltd.
A spokesman for Exxon, which Storebrand divested itself of nearly $12.3 million, pointed to a statement from Stephen Littleton, vice president of investor relations, that was made in advance of this year’s shareholder meeting following criticism from some investors of its lobbying. Mr. Littleton said Exxon would provide more disclosures on its lobbying.
“We recognize not all shareholders will agree on the best way to manage risks, and we respect those with different perspectives and welcome their engagement,” he said in May.
A spokesman for Chevron, from which Storebrand pulled more than $10 million, said the board of the San Ramon, Calif.-based oil giant is carefully considering a shareholder resolution that would require it to disclose lobbying on climate change.
“We are not always aligned with all the views of those organizations, but it’s important for us to be part of conversations on challenging issues where there are multiple points of view,” the spokesman said.
A BASF spokesman said it wouldn’t comment on moves by shareholders, but stressed that the chemical maker “clearly supports the Paris Climate Agreement.” Storebrand pulled more than $2.7 million from the company.
A Rio Tinto spokesman also declined to comment on its shareholders, but pointed to disclosures it provides on its website regarding its lobbying. Storebrand pulled nearly $3.8 million from the mining company.
which Storebrand divested itself of close to $4 million over its oil-sands business, declined to comment.
In Asia, Storebrand sold more than $373,000 from
Taiwan Cement Corp.
and more than $313,000 from Japan’s
Kansai Electric Power Co.,
both due to their coal activities.
The companies said through spokespeople that they are working to cut their emissions and become more energy efficient, though Kansai declined to comment directly on Storebrand’s decision.
Taiwan Cement’s spokesperson said the Taipei-based company “has been striving to become a green environmental engineering company” because of advice from shareholders.
Mr. Saugestad of Storebrand said he hopes the new policy serves as an example for other investors and inspires them to follow suit.
“It’s a natural step in evolution,” Mr. Saugestad said.
Write to Dieter Holger at [email protected]
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