Mammoth Norway wealth fund cuts off firms tied to West Bank developments

A cat sits among the rubble after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on May 20, 2021.
MAHMUD HAMS—AFP via Getty Images

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

The companies were excluded based on advice from the Council on Ethics “due to 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% 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 Co. 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’s 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.

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