Norway's sovereign wealth fund cuts ties with companies linked to West Bank settlements

The world's biggest wealth fund says the settlements breach international law

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Norway's $1.3 trillion sovereign wealth fund excluded Shapir Engineering and Mivne Real Estate for activities associated with Israeli settlements on the West Bank.

The companies were excluded based on advice from the Council on Ethics because of unacceptable risk that the companies contribute to systematic violations of individuals' rights in situations or war or conflict", the fund said in a statement.

The world’s biggest wealth fund, which owns about 1.5 per cent of listed stocks globally, is managed according to a wide range of ethical guidelines and excludes some companies from its investment universe based on advice from the council.

The Council on Ethics said in a separate statement “that the Israeli settlements in the West Bank have been built in violation of international law and that their existence and constant expansion causes significant harm and disadvantage to the area’s Palestinian population”.

Norges Bank Investment Management also decided to exclude Honeys Holdings based on a recommendation from the ethics council after it considered workers’ rights at two factories that the Japanese company owns in Myanmar.

The fund announces exclusions after it has divested the actual holdings. At the end of 2020, it held $1 million in stocks in Shapir Engineering and Industry and $12 million in Mivne. It had $2 million in women’s clothes maker Honeys Holdings. As the recommendations were made before the end of 2020, NBIM may have started divesting its holdings last year.