Danish PFA Pension excludes HeidelbergCement from its investment universe citing "violation of basic human rights" & "illegal activities" in occupied West Bank

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13 October 2017

Danish pension fund divests from four companies over complicity in the Israeli occupation

Author: Sarah Scheer Pedersen, Danwatch (Denmark)

“Pension Fund blacklists four companies after Danwatch investigation”, 10 October 2017

The third largest pension fund in Denmark, Sampension, excludes four publicly traded companies from their portfolio. The blacklisting happens after [Danish research centre] Danwatch…documented that Sampension…invested the largest sum of money in companies doing business in or around the illegal Israeli settlements. The Danwatch-investigation has lead the pension fund to revise its investment guidelines…“The result of our review is that two Israeli banks, Hapoalim and Leumi, as well as Heidelberg Cement and Bezeq, [have] been placed on our list of excluded companies due to the financing of settlements, and the extraction of natural resources and establishment of infrastructure for telecommunication on occupied territory”, the [pension fund stated in a] press release…Sampension…[is] also initiating a dialogue with an additional six companies about their possible business activities in the settlements…

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22 December 2015

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

Author: Middle East Monitor

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...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."

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Company response
22 December 2015

HeidelbergCement response

Author: HeidelbergCement

PFA has not informed HeidelbergCement about the decision to exclude the shares from its portfolios and no detailed information has been provided that would give a thorough explanation for this step. Furthermore, PFA has not been in contact with HeidelbergCement and did not enter into an engagement dialogue in the past months. HeidelbergCement is concerned that the decision of PFA did not take into account all relevant information about the specific situation and the company has already contacted PFA to clarify the situation. From HeidelbergCement’s perspective, the quarrying activity of Hanson Israel in the West Bank is compatible with international humanitarian law as it produces substantial advantages for the local Palestinian population...HeidelbergCement is convinced that investors who are acting in a responsible way and are taking into account the specific situation at the Nahal Raba quarry will come to the conclusion that the operations are compatible with international humanitarian law and that a divestment decision is not justified as it would lead to a deterioration of the economic and humanitarian situation of the Palestinian population in the West Bank...

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22 December 2015

PFA Pension decision

Author: PFA Pension

PFA’s RI Board has excluded HeidelbergCement. PFA does not wish to contribute to any illegal activities in relation to the occupation of the West Bank. Throughout 2015, PFA has focused on the issue of extraction of natural resources, its use and the interpretation of the international law in the field. PFA’s RI Board has decided to the change the former practice in the field and has, in that connection, concluded that HeidelbergCement is involved in the extraction of natural resources in a way that is incompatible with PFA’s policy for responsible investments.

Cause for exclusion: Violation of basic human rights, which conflicts with UN Global Compact principles 1 and 2

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