The Norwegian Ministry of Finance has completed the disposal of 17 companies that produce tobacco from the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG). The divestment was based on a recommendation from the Fund’s Council on Ethics.
“When the Graver Committee proposed the current ethical guidelines, there was debate on whether to exclude tobacco producers from the Fund. Under some doubt, it was decided that tobacco should not be excluded. After the Graver Committee submitted its recommendation, there have been international and national developments through the entry into force of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and the tightening of the Norwegian Tobacco Act. We have taken these changes on board and believe – amongst others in light of the consultative input in connection with the evaluation of the ethical guidelines – that it is timely to exclude tobacco from the Fund. It is important that the ethical guidelines reflect at all times what can be considered to be commonly held values of the owners of the Fund,” says Minister of Finance Sigbjørn Johnsen.
In drafting new screening criteria on tobacco producers, the Ministry of Finance said that it placed particular emphasis on finding a delimitation that would work within the structure of the current ethical guidelines, including existing rules for negative screening of certain weapons manufacturers. On this basis, a rule has been adopted that in principle will exclude all production of tobacco, regardless of the percentage of business represented by tobacco production. This means that more companies can be excluded than those listed under the industrial classification “tobacco” by the index providers. The new screening criterion for tobacco production is limited to tobacco products and does not include associated products such as filters and flavour additives.
The Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) is managed by the central bank and uses income from Norway’s petroleum wealth. It was created to pay for Norway’s future health and pension expenditures through investments outside the Norwegian economy.