Pension administrators APG and PGGM would invest a total of approximately 2 billion euros in eleven companies that have activities in Myanmar, where a coup d’état recently took place. Among them the oil companies Shell and Total. That writes de Volkskrant based on an investigation by the Justice for Myanmar organization. Both implementers point out in a response to NU.nl that they do not invest in Myanmar companies or the Myanmar state.
In addition to the British-Dutch Shell and a number of American oil companies, this mainly concerns Indian companies. For example, APG and PGGM, which manage the assets of large Dutch pension funds, have a multi-million stake in Adani Ports, the largest port operator in India. That company was awarded a project in May 2019 to build a port in the Myanmar city of Rangoon. Over the next fifty years, the company will invest $ 290 million in this Asian country.
Also in another Indian company, Bharat Electronics, the pension providers have a stake of several million dollars. That company supplies technology to the Myanmar army. Oil giant Shell is said to do business directly with state-owned companies in Myanmar, but this is not discussed further in the report.
‘Leger controls major companies’
The investments are controversial because the military has had actual power in the country for years. In February of this year, President Aung San Suu Kyi was dismissed. This has already led to considerable popular protests in recent months. Justice for Myanmar and the United Nations are calling on companies to withdraw from the country.
According to the UN, the military controls almost all major companies through two corporations with a lot of subsidiaries. According to Justice for Myanmar, most of the income from exports of oil, gemstones and other land resources also ends up with the army.
‘We do not invest directly in Myanmar’
APG and PGGM emphasize in a response to NU.nl that they “do not invest in government bonds or Myanmar companies”. “We have interests in companies that operate worldwide, including Myanmar,” said APG.
“Our largest client, ABP pension fund, has respect for human rights as an important precondition for sustainable and responsible investment. That is why we are actively engaged in discussions with these companies about the situation in Myanmar, which is of concern.” APG asks the companies concerned to prove that there are no ties to the Myanmar army and to allow external controls.
PGGM reports that it is looking at what the report means for its investments. “If there are structural problems with human rights or ecology in a company, we as a shareholder try to change that. If the problem continues, it may be a reason to stop investing in it. But we have to look at that now. for the companies mentioned. “