March 6, 2009
GES Investment Services continues to put pressure on companies operating in Burma by releasing a report on the outcome of eight engagement cases in Burma last year. The GES Burma Engagement Service: Annual Report 2008 concludes that meeting with companies operating in areas of conflict pays off with noteworthy results, which is why investors should use engagement as a key component in a strategic toolbox in helping to bring about democratic change in Burma.
During 2008, GES Investment Services has together with Swedish insurance company Folksam, Norwegian life insurance company KLP and the Central Church Fund of Finland approached directly eight oil and gas companies exposed to high risks and with a poor level of preparedness in handling risks in Burma.
All of the eight companies are listed on the MSCI All World and have been identified by the influence they have on the income of the military government in Burma. GES Investment Services has been particularly successful in meeting two of the eight engagement cases, namely Total and Chevron. Total and Chevron show a high level of environmental, social and governmental preparedness in their Burmese operations, when compared with other oil and gas companies.
“GES Investment Services feels that responsible companies are an asset to democratic development. From our point of view, investors should target companies operating in areas of conflict. We wish to see engagement as a key component in a strategic toolbox. To simply divest or boycott a nation is counterproductive, because it does not impose sufficient impact on the government or the company in question and only adds to a further state of destitution for the people”, says Tine Lange, Head of Emerging Markets at GES Investment Services.
On March 2, 2009, Folksam offered their view on the subject of Burma at a United Nations PRI webinar called, “Responsible Investments in Conflict Areas”:
“Folksam has a vision to work towards a long-term sustainable society. We demand that the companies we invest in take their responsibility for the environment and for human rights. This is an opportunity for us to take action in a sector were it normally is difficult or impossible. We want to use the power of the companies to create development – through engagement – we might obtain better results for the population in Burma and for the business”, says Carina Lundberg Markow, MBA Executive Officer, Head of Corporate Governance, Folksam.
- Since 2007, the EU has increased its economical sanctions against the military government in Burma.
- The GES Burma Engagement Service was launched in November 2007, because a number of clients felt they needed a decision-platform for developing and maintaining responsible investment in Burma. The direct catalyst for these demands was the uprising among monks and students in Burma, August 2007, and the subsequent crackdown by the military government.
- Companies in the oil and gas sector bring a significant income to the Burmese military government
- Two out of eight engagement cases mentioned in the Annual Report have been specifically satisfactory
- The remaining six companies pay attention to responsible behaviour, but only principally and on an abstract level.
* GES Investment Services recommend investors to continue their engagement in all of the oil and gas companies that do not demonstrate responsible behaviour.