Friday, February 3, 2023

Norway fund drops China, India firms over Myanmar weapons

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OSLO: Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s biggest, has excluded two companies from China and India for selling weapons to Myanmar, the Norwegian central bank said.

The fund said it had divested from AviChina Industry & Technology and Bharat Electronics due to the “unacceptable risk that the companies are selling weapons to a state that uses these weapons in ways that constitute serious and systematic breaches of the international rules on the conduct of hostilities”.

The fund — which was valued at 13.2 trillion kroner ($1.3 trillion) on Wednesday — owned 0.37 percent of the Chinese group and 0.32 percent of the Indian company at the end of 2021, the most recent figures available.

It said AviChina had delivered light aeroplanes in December 2021 to Myanmar, which has been in turmoil since Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government was toppled in an army coup almost two years ago.

Bharat Electronics meanwhile delivered a remote-controlled weapons station to Myanmar in July 2021.

The decision to exclude the two companies was taken by Norway’s central bank, based on a recommendation by an ethics board.

The fund, in which the Norwegian state’s oil revenues are placed, is one of the biggest investors in the world with stakes in more than 9,000 companies.

It also has holdings in bonds and real estate.

It is governed by rules that prohibit it from investing in companies involved in serious human rights violations, those that manufacture “particularly inhumane” or nuclear weapons, as well as coal and tobacco products.

As a result, it has previously divested from a number of companies, including Airbus, Boeing, Glencore, Lockheed Martin and Philip Morris.

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