Danish pension firms keeping hands on contentious tobacco shares

PensionDanmark, ATP and PFA among the big hitters to invest in tobacco

This week the Health Ministry announced a new partnership with supermarkets that aims to prevent the sale of tobacco products to users under the age of 18.

And last month the UN’s Global Compact (UNGC) delisted tobacco companies from participating in its initiative to involve corporate leadership in achieving the UN development goals. However, a number of big pension firms in Denmark continue to invest in tobacco shares. Business is simply too good, it seems.

PensionDanmark, ATP and PFA are among the heavy pension hitters to invest in tobacco shares, and while PFA is considering moving away from the controversial investment, others are less inclined.

ATP and PensionDanmark, both part of Global Compact, argue that they would continue to invest as long as the tobacco firms operate within the law.

“With almost 5 million members, ATP can’t avoid making investment decisions that some members with be against or disagree with,” Ole Buhl, the deputy head of ATP, told Politiken newspaper.

READ MORE: Danish health ministry and shops co-operate in fight against underage smoking

Billions at stake
Global Compact axed the tobacco companies pointing out that an industry that kills 7 million people a year is not something that is compatible with UN global health goals. PFA, also part of Global Compact, seemed a little more rattled by the expulsion of the tobacco companies.

“Initially, we have decided to offer an equity fund that doesn’t include tobacco. That’s an offer for those customers who decide for themselves how their savings should be invested,” Mikkel Friis-Thomsen, the head of communications with PFA, told Politiken newspaper.

According to the Politiken survey, the Danish pension firms hold tobacco shares worth a “larger billion-kroner amount” and investment seems to have increased in recent years.