Norway fund could disinvest from firms selling arms to Israel

Norway wealth fund CEO Nicolai Tangen credit: Reuters
Norway wealth fund CEO Nicolai Tangen credit: Reuters

Norway's sovereign wealth fund is concerned about a breach of its ethical guidelines.

Norway's sovereign wealth fund, one of the world's biggest investment bodies, with an investment portfolio worth an estimated $1.6 trillion, has announced that it is "reexamining" its holdings in international and Israeli companies due to the war in Gaza. The fund says that this is being undertaken due to possible violations of its ethical guidelines.

In the past the fund has announced disinvestment from a range of Israeli companies involved in activities in Judea and Samaria, particularly in the infrastructures sector - companies like Shapir Engineering, Danya Cebus, Ashtrom Group and Electra. The fund also disinvested from Israeli company Cognyte Software because of its activities over the green line. The fund said that by investing in these companies it would be taking an unacceptable risk in the violation of human rights. Eighteen months ago the fund decided to continue investing in Israeli financial companies after examining the issue.

Chair of the fund's ethical council, Svein Richard Brandtzaeg told "Reuters" "We are looking at this because of the seriousness of the breach of the norms that we see."

"Reuters" said that the Norwegian fund holds 1.5% of the world's listed shares across 8,800 companies and that it will examine whether portfolio companies are selling arms to Israel that are being used in Gaza. If they are then this could lead to disinvestment from them because this would violate the fund's ethical guidelines. These guidelines prevent the fund from investing in companies that violate international humanitarian law, Brandtzaeg said.

Brandtzaeg did not say which companies were being investigated but he did comment that "They could be Israeli or not Israeli." Under the fund's ethical guidelines it is permitted to invest in arms companies providing the3y are not developing nuclear weapons or mines. The fund does also not invest in tobacco companies.

As of the end of 2023, the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund held stakes in 76 Israeli companies including Teva Pharmaceuticals, ICL, NICE Systems, Bank Hapoalim, and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank. The fund recently announced its disinvestment from NewMed Energy because the fund's ethics committee was concerned about the agreement the Delek unit signed with Morocco in December 2022 to develop offshore gas fields in waters that are claimed by Western Sahara.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on March 25, 2024.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2024.

Norway wealth fund CEO Nicolai Tangen credit: Reuters
Norway wealth fund CEO Nicolai Tangen credit: Reuters
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