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NZ fund excludes three companies profiting from occupation

Created on 14 December 2012

The New Zealand Superannuation Fund announced  Wednesday that it has excluded three companies from its $20 billion investment portfolio on responsible investment grounds. The companies: Africa Israel Investments and subsidiary Danya Cebus; Elbit Systems Limited, and Shikun &Binui are involved in supporting Israeli settlements or constructing the Separation Wall. Fund: engagement with companies not likely to change their actions.

 NZSF_copyNZSF_copy

Image: NZSF Twitter account 

Findings by the United Nations that the Separation Wall and settlement activities were illegal under international law were central to the Fund’s decision to exclude the companies, said Responsible Investment Manager Anne-Maree O’Connor. She added that the “the Fund also factored in votes by New Zealand for UN Security Council resolutions demanding the cessation and dismantling of the Separation Barrier, and the cessation of Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

In a press release, the Fund notes the following reasons for excluding the companies:

Africa Israel Investments and subsidiary Danya Cebus:  Excluded because of their involvement in the construction of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The settlements have been cited as illegal under international law, and the Fund considers the companies’ involvement to be inconsistent with the United Nations Global Compact. 

Elbit Systems Limited: Excluded because of its involvement in the construction of the Separation Barrier in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The Separation Barrier has been cited as illegal under international law, and the Fund considers the company’s involvement to be inconsistent with the United Nations Global Compact 

Shikun & Binui: Excluded because of its involvement in the construction of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The settlements have been cited as illegal under international law, and the Fund considers the company’s involvement to be inconsistent with the United Nations Global Compact. 

 “In deciding whether a company is breaching the Fund’s responsible investment standards and how material that breach is, we take account of the proximity and importance of the company’s actions to an illegal or unethical activity,” said O’Connor.

“We draw a distinction between being directly and materially involved in an activity versus being a supplier of materials or services in the normal course of business. In doing so, we consider whether the product or service is integral to the activity and tailor-made as opposed to being an off-the-shelf substitute or readily replaceable alternative.”

For those believing that "dialogue" with companies engaged in Israel's occupation is the best way forward, it's good to read what the Fund has to say about this: “We also consider whether engagement by the Fund with the company concerned would realistically lead to a meaningful change in behaviour. In the case of these companies we have come to the conclusion that engagement is not likely to be effective.” 

Ms O’Connor said the exclusion decisions were based on an ongoing research and screening programme and, in the case of Elbit Systems Ltd, engagement with the company over an extended period. The stocks have now been sold.