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Denmark’s largest pension fund blacklists firm over links to Israeli occupation

December 14, 2015 at 4:30 pm

Denmark’s largest commercial pension fund has blacklisted HeidelbergCement, over the German company’s links to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

PFA Pension announced the exclusion on its website, stating that “PFA does not wish to contribute to any illegal activities in relation to the occupation of the West Bank.”

According to the statement, “HeidelbergCement is involved in the extraction of natural resources in a way that is incompatible with PFA’s policy for responsible investments.” HeidelbergCement operates a quarry in the West Bank through its Israeli subsidiary.

The company’s entry on the exclusion list, which features more than 30 companies including Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems, reads: “Violation of basic human rights, which conflicts with UN Global Compact principles 1 and 2.”

PFA Pension has also announced that it is awaiting answers from another company, Cement Roadstone Holding (CRH), in relation to its ties to Israel’s occupation, before a decision can be made about whether or not to blacklist.

PFA Pension manages assets of 552 billion Danish krone, or $82 billion. According to its website, “PFA determinedly aims to implement internationally recognised, social, environmental and governmental factors as an integrated part of the investment process.”

Earlier this year, Norway’s largest pension fund similarly excluded HeidelbergCement from its $70 billion investment portfolio after a period of investigation and engagement.

The decision to exclude HeidelbergCement, the world’s second largest cement producer, comes after intense pressure by ActionAid Denmark and other NGOs, who have welcomed the move.

Troels Børrild, Senior Policy Advisor and CSR expert with ActionAid Denmark, said the decision to blacklist followed a period of “fruitless back-and-forth dialogue with the company [by PFA Pension].”

Investing in companies that profit from the systematic human rights violations caused by the illegal Israeli settlements and the belligerent occupation is becoming toxic to investors. At times, the actions of such companies will be directly illegal under international law, and at least in breach of the corporate responsibility to respect human rights. Too many investors and companies still fail to live up to their own policies in the case of businesses who profit from the Israeli occupation.