$300bn fund examines Gaza holdingsFebruary 2009
The world’s second largest sovereign wealth fund, run by the Norwegian government, is examining whether it should exclude companies that are active in the Palestinian territories from its portfolio.
The review, which follows Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip, was ordered last month by Norway’s finance minister, Kristin Halvorsen.
She said the decision had been made ‘in light of the increased conflict level in the Palestinian areas’ – and to answer concerns that the fund may be investing in companies ‘that contribute to an occupation against international law or oppression in occupied areas’. More than 1400 people were killed in the military offensive.
The review will be conducted by the fund’s ethics council, which advises on excluding companies on ethical grounds. The council’s guidelines rule that the fund should not invest in companies that run ‘an unacceptable risk of contributing to serious or systematic abuses of human rights or serious violations of individuals’ rights in war or conflict’.
The fund has not named the businesses being examined, but one may be the state-owned Israel Electric Corp, which supplies power to the Gaza Strip and was criticized for cutting power supplies to Gaza during 2008.
The company was reviewed last year but remained in the fund’s portfolio after the council found insufficient evidence for exclusion.
The fund, which has been built on Norway’s oil wealth, was worth 2.15trillion kroner ($306billion, £223bn) at the end of November and is Europe’s biggest investor in equities.
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