Netherlands Fund Pulls Holdings in Land Mine Makers

April 6, 2007 ( - The Netherlands' ABP, one of the world's largest pension funds, announced Friday it has shed its holdings in companies that make land mines.

The Associated Press reports that the fund which serves civil servants and teachers and has 209 billion euros ($279 billion) in assets, was hit with bad publicity in March when a television program revealed it held stock in military contractors – including some involved with the manufacture of land mines, cluster bombs and nuclear weapons.

“Retirement fund managers must take into account the values of the people they represent,” said Lidwine Dallaert, an employee of the city of Haarlemmermeer who has a pension with ABP, according to the AP. “Their primary duty is to ensure people’s pensions, but there are enough possibilities out there without investing this way.”

ABP spokesman Thijs Steger said the fund divested from U.S. companies Textron Inc., General Dynamics Corp., and Alliant Techsystems Inc., and from Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd., after receiving hundreds of complaints. He added that ABP was “reviewing” its other military investments, the news report said.

ABP also announced in a statement it will disclose all of the approximately 3,000 public companies that make up its stock portfolio in its annual report to be published April 12. European public pension funds are not required to disclose investments.

Just as the largest pension funds in the U.S., the California State Teachers Retirement System and the California Public Employees Retirement System, are often lobbied to make a stand for social causes, large European funds also face political pressure. Europe’s largest fund, the Norwegian state pension fund, which has 219 billion euro ($292 billion) in assets, maintains a public blacklist of companies it will not invest in for ethical reasons.