Giant New Zealand fund joins cluster bomb boycott

Fund will withdraw NZ$26m from related companies because of its government’s involvement in international treaty.

The NZ$13.5bn (€6.7bn) New Zealand Superannuation Fund, has become the latest government pension fund to announce it will boycott investment in companies involved in the manufacture of cluster bombs ahead of plans to draw up an international treaty banning their production. Hundreds of governments are expected to sign the treaty at an international conference in Dublin next month. The fund will withdraw NZ$26m from related companies because of its government’s involvement in the treaty.
At a recent conference in Wellington, New Zealand, 82 states signed a declaration supporting a ban on cluster bomb production. The Guardians of the New Zealand fund said they would implement their exclusion plan upon New Zealand signing the new treaty.
The €21.3bn ($32.7bn) Irish National Pension Reserve Fund (NPRF), has already declared it is preparing to withdraw €27m in investments from six international companies, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Alliant Techsystems and L3 Communications and Thales in France, which are involved in the production of cluster munitions, following pressure from the Irish government ahead of the event.
Adrian Orr, chief executive of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund said: “We are legally obliged to manage the fund in line with best-practice portfoliomanagement, to maximise return without undue risk to the fund as a whole, and to avoid prejudice to New Zealand’s reputation as a responsible member of the world community. Cluster munitions are not currently subject to specific restrictions under international or national law. To date it has been very rare for funds to engage with, or exclude investments in, companies involved in the manufacture of cluster munitions. With the forthcoming international treaty, we can unambiguously conclude that such practices breach our responsible investment standards. Exclusion of these stocks is also not inconsistent with best-practice portfolio management.”
Last month, Responible Investor reported that institutional investors with money in cluster bomb manufacturers could find themselves obliged to pull their assets if a decision to include a commitment on divestment is added to the Dublin treaty. Campaigners, including Stop Cluster Munitions, a UK-based NGO, say they have organised an event on divestment at the conference, which they said would be chaired by Gro Nuystuen, former chair of the Norwegian government Council on Ethics, which advised the €250bn ($366bn) Norwegian Government Pension Fund on its cluster bomb exclusions, used by many investors as a reliable blacklist.

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