Norwegian government's global pension fund excludes Malaysian forest resource and wood products company Samling Global from investment portfolio over forestry practices in Sarawak and Guyana
August 23, 2010
– The Ministry of Finance has excluded two Israeli companies and one Malaysian company from the portfolio of the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG).
On the recommendation of the Council on Ethics, the Ministry of Finance has decided to exclude the Israeli companies Africa Israel Investments Ltd. and Danya Cebus Ltd. and the Malaysian company Samling Global Ltd. from the GPFGs investment portfolio. The divestment from these companies has now been concluded.
“The decision to exclude these companies from the GPFG is based on the Council on Ethics assessment that they are contributing to or are themselves responsible for grossly unethical activity,” says Minister of Finance Sigbjørn Johnsen.
Africa Israel Investments Ltd. is the parent company of several subsidiaries with interests in property development, infrastructure and energy. The company holds a majority stake in Danya Cebus, a construction company involved in developing settlements in occupied Palestinian territory. The Council on Ethics emphasises that the construction of settlements in occupied areas is a violation of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (the fourth Geneva Convention) and that the GPFG runs an unacceptable risk of contributing to serious violations of individual rights in situations of war and conflict by investing in these two companies.
“The Council on Ethics bases its recommendation on the fact that the international community is united in the view that the area east of the 1967 line is occupied territory and as such comes under the purview of the fourth Geneva Convention. Several United Nations Security Council resolutions and an International Court of Justice advisory opinion have concluded that the construction of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory is prohibited under this Convention. I have therefore accepted the recommendation of the Council on Ethics and am excluding Africa Israel Investments and Danya Cebus from the fund’s investment portfolio,” says Minister of Finance Sigbjørn Johnsen.
The GPFG owned shares worth NOK 7.2 million in Africa Israel Investments at year end 2009. Africa Israel Investments is the majority shareholder in Danya Cebus.
Samling Global is an integrated forest resource and wood products company that produces timber, plywood, veneer and palm oil. The Council on Ethics’ investigations have documented what seems to be extensive and repeated breaches of the licence requirements, regulations and other directives governing the company’s forest operations in Sarawak, Malaysia and Guyana. The recommendation of the Council on Ethics is based on field surveys , satellite image analysis, and evaluation of publicly available documentation. In its assessment, the Council on Ethics has placed particular emphasis on the extent of illegal logging. and the environmental damage that occurs when laws and regulations are not being observed.
“The Council on Ethics has assessed Samling Global, and concluded that the company’s forest operations in the rainforests of Sarawak and Guyana contribute to illegal logging and severe environmental damage. I have therefore chosen to follow the recommendation of the Council on Ethics and exclude the company from the GPFG’s investment portfolio,” says Johnsen.
The GPFG owned shares worth NOK 8.1 million in Samling Global Ltd at year end 2009.