Norway wealth fund drops BHEL from its portfolio over environmental concerns

Norway wealth fund has dropped BHEL from its investment portfolio on environmental concerns arising from its coal-fired thermal power plant in the Sundarbans


Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) has a thermal power plant in the ecologically sensitive Sundarban mangroves. Photo: AFP
Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) has a thermal power plant in the ecologically sensitive Sundarban mangroves. Photo: AFP

Oslo: Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, has taken Indian industrial giant Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) out of its investment portfolio due to environmental concerns, the Norwegian central bank said on Friday.

BHEL has been targeted because it is building a coal-fired thermal power plant in the Sundarbans, one of the world’s largest mangrove forests straddling Bangladesh and West Bengal.

The fund—worth an estimated 8.1 trillion kroner (€852 billion, $934 billion)—has also placed Chinese oil giant PetroChina Co. Ltd and Italian group Leonardo SpA under observation over corruption allegations, said the Bank of Norway, which manages the wealth fund.

Some 65 senior executives at PetroChina, a listed entity of the Chinese oil giant CNPC, are being investigated on suspicion of bribery in China, Canada and Indonesia.

Leonardo is also under observation due to its involvement in several cases of alleged or proven corruption in India, South Korea, Panama and Algeria between 2009 and 2014.

The fund which has shares in some 9,000 companies around the world, must follow ethical rules which prohibit it from investing in companies that produce nuclear arms, tobacco, risk environmental damage, violate human rights, and enterprises deriving a large part of their business from coal.

More than a hundred groups, including giants like Airbus SAS, Boeing Co., British American Tobacco Plc and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., have been blacklisted and a dozen others are under observation.

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