Calls are going out for Norway’s huge sovereign wealth fund, known as the Oil Fund, to cut its investment holdings in companies selling alcoholic beverages. The calls intensified on reports that Dutch brewery giant Heineken has engaged in questionable operations in Africa.
Newspaper Dagsavisen reported that the Oil Fund has invested NOK 62 billion in seven multinational companies that operate in the beer, wine and liquor markets. The holdings were compiled by FORUT, a foreign aid organization that sees alcohol and drugs as hindering economic development.
“We have to sell ourselves out of the alcohol giants,” Morten Lønstad of FORUT told Dagsavisen. Three of the breweries in which the Oil Fund has invested (Heineken, SAB-Miller and Diageo) reportedly dominate 90 percent of the brewery market in Africa.
The Oil Fund has sold off its holdings in the tobacco industry and Lønstad claims it’s time it does the same in the alcoholic beverages industry. Thomas Sevang, communications leader of Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), which runs the Oil Fund, said he couldn’t comment on the fund’s holdings in individual companies. He repeated NBIM’s standard response when called upon to dump shares in controversial businesses: “We expect that companies respect human right and take them into consideration in all their operations … our expectations are directed first and foremost to the boards of the companies and are a starting point for our dialog with companies on human rights.”