Dutch health care sector pension giant PFZW in €600m exit from tobacco sector

Leading fund divests 15 companies

Pensioenfonds Zorg en Welzijn (PFZW), the €135bn pension fund for the care and welfare sector in the Netherlands, has excluded tobacco to the list of companies it excludes from its investments.

The Zeist-based fund, whose assets are run by PGGM Investments, said its engagement with the sector over issues such as employment conditions, child labour and marketing to the young had “failed to bring about the improvements desired”.

It said: “PFZW believes the problems are typical of this sector and, in combination with the difficult relationship between tobacco products and the care and welfare sector, the decision has been taken to exclude all tobacco producers.“PFZW had investments in 15 companies with a total stake worth around €600m, a spokesperson confirmed, adding: “Most of it has already been sold.”

The 2.5m-member fund’s director, Peter Borgdorff, said: “Although smoking is a personal choice, we have always recognised and highlighted the associated problems.

“We could not come to any other conclusion other than that these investments are unsuitable for us.”

According to a list of holdings on its website, PFZW held stakes in a range of tobacco firms as at the end of last year, including major names such as Altria, British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco, Philip Morris International and Lorillard. Link