PenSam has already sold shares worth half a billion DKK and has blacklisted 29 tobacco providers. Lærernes Pension is to divest its tobacco shares in the coming months.
The respective decisions by the pension companies were influenced, according to politiken.dk, by the exclusion of the tobacco industry from the UN Global Compact, following recommendations from the World Health Organisation. The UNGC ban came into effect in September 2017.
The combined effect of the companies’ decisions means that up to a million Danish pension fund clients less will have investments in the tobacco industry, taking into account longer-standing divestments from PKA Pension and Alm. Brand in the tobacco industry. PenSam’s decision reduces the exposure of pension fund clients to tobacco investments by as much as 400,000 individuals, while Lærernes Pension’s action will account for an estimated 150,000.
The moves are understood to be a result of a broader normative shift, within the country as well as without, reflecting the growing consensus that tobacco investments are unethical.
In addition, tobacco shares may turn out to be bad business in the long run, according to Jacob Dahl Rendtorff, a business ethics lecturer at the University of Roskilde. One reason given is that there hasn’t been enough research dedicated to producing less damaging types of cigarettes, by contrast to increasing research and understanding of the negative effects of smoking, both for society and for the individual.
“It is well documented how damaging tobacco is,” PenSam CEO Torsten Fels commented on the company’s move.
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