KLP divests NOK 275m from 16 newly-excluded companies

Norwegian pension fund, KLP, has divested NOK 275m from 16 companies with connections to Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The exclusions include a number of companies in banking, construction, infrastructure and telecommunications in the West Bank.

The decision was made following a “thorough assessments” by the scheme, undertaken after the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights published a list of companies with activities related to the Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory. 

The scheme emphasised that it had contacted all the affected companies in an attempt to start a dialogue and use its influence as an owner, although it decided to exclude the firms after this failed to yield results.

“Our assessment is that there is an unacceptable risk that the excluded companies will contribute to human rights violations in war and conflict situations through their connection to the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank," KLP Asset Management senior analyst, Kiran Aziz, said.

“This is anchored in the rules on occupation in the Hague Regulations and the Fourth Geneva Convention."

The scheme stated that it has "clear expectations" for the companies it invests in, noting that the precautionary principle is also at the heart of the UN's guiding principles for business and human rights.

Aziz continued: “This means that the companies have a responsibility to respect and protect human rights in all countries in which they operate, regardless of whether the state itself respects these rights.

“Conflict can involve a particularly high risk of human rights violations. Companies that operate in conflict areas should therefore exercise special care to avoid being involved in human rights violations and protect vulnerable individuals."

Adding to this, Aziz explained that the scheme chose to extend the exclusions to banks, as it believes that they contribute to the development, expansion or maintenance of the settlements through financing of housing construction.

“Construction companies are excluded due to their deliveries of materials and infrastructure,” she continued. “The exclusion of the telecommunications companies is done because communication services are considered a basic infrastructure for modern societies.”

The scheme also decided to exclude all four companies that provide energy, communication and monitoring services, as these services play "an important role in the maintenance and continuation of the settlements".

The full list of companies is: Alstom Sa, Shtrom Group Ltd, Electra Ltd, Bank Hapoalim BM, Bank Leumi Le-Israel, First Intl Bank Israel, Israel Discount Bank-A, Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Ltd, Altice Europe NV, Bezeq The Israeli Telecom Compmany, CellCom Israel Ltd, Partner Communications Co, Delek Group, Energix-Renewable Energies, Paz Oil Co, Motorola Solutions Inc.

KLP also recently announced plans to exclude Myanmar-linked Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone, as they breached the scheme's responsible investment strategy.

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