Tuesday, 20 May 2008


A council is considering pulling investment from businesses with links to Burma because it wants to be "socially responsible".

The county council is writing to the banks administering its £2 billion pension fund to find out how much of its money is sent there.

It is not possible for foreigners to invest directly in Burma, but the council does have cash in companies which operate there.

Legally, councils cannot restrict investment in any area unless they can prove it is at risk.

County Hall, like other councils, gives its pension funds to banks which invest the money on its behalf.

Most foreign investment in Burma is in the gas, oil and hydroelectric sectors, but cash is also pumped into mining companies and timber businesses.

The controversy surrounding the country's human rights situation has led to some companies pulling out for ethical reasons.

Recently business giants such as Ikea, British American Tobacco, Adidas and Texaco have refused to invest there.

If companies continue to pull out, this could put existing investments at risk, and might give the council the legal right to pull out.

The council's head of finance, Brian Roberts, said: "Burma undoubtedly has a regime that operates in a manner that is unacceptable to the vast majority of individuals.

"Although it is not possible for foreigners to invest directly into Burma, the council does have investments in companies which operate there."

The council's pensions board has written to Capital International and Goldman Sachs to find out just how much council money it has invested there and if whether is possible for the authority to pull out without losing money.

Leicester Shire

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