Norwegian SWF gets active in activism

Norwegian SWF gets active in activism

The fund voted in 98% of shareholder meetings for portfolio companies

Norges Bank Investment Management, responsible for portfolio allocation of the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, met with nearly 3,000 companies last year as part of its active ownership strategy.

According to a report on this initiative, it held 2,877 meetings with companies that featured in its portfolio in 2020.

Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) voted at 98% of shareholder meetings, amounting to a total of 11,871 meetings. This meant NBIM voted on 121,619 resolutions.

“The coronavirus pandemic has stress-tested companies around the globe,” said Nicolai Tangen, NBIM’s CEO and head of the Norway Pension Fund Global.

“It has been important to maintain a close dialogue with the companies’ boards and management throughout this turbulent year.”

Sustainable and ethical investment are central to NBIM’s investment strategy, and its portfolio managers often liaise with an independent ethics council set up by the Norwegian Ministry of Finance for assessment of each company.

The firm, which manages 10.9trn kroner (£923bn) used its ownership to push through positive change at these companies.

In 2020, NBIM’s board also demonstrated its willingness to act decisively and carried out 32 divestments throughout the year.

These divestments were made for a range of reasons, from concerns about the sector in which a company operated (such as munitions or coal), to more company-specific complaints linked to ethics and conduct.

This included divestment from Glencore, Anglo American and BHP Group.

Elsewhere, NBIM initiated progressive climate risk discussions with influential companies it holds in its portfolio.

Chief governance and compliance officer Carine Smith Ihenacho explained: “We have focused on climate risk for many years, and we have, among other things, initiated dialogue with 16 banks on how to manage climate risk in their lending and financing portfolios. We see that banks are increasingly working to quantify climate emissions from their financing operations.”

Last Updated: 4 March 2021
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