Local authorities urged to pull out of Vedanta

Many British local authorities’ pension funds are ‘beneficial holders’ of shares in Vedanta. This means that although they may not hold shares in the company themselves, they benefit financially from an asset manager holding shares on their behalf.

The following is a list of local authority pension funds with beneficial holdings in Vedanta in June 2010, and the asset managers holding shares on their behalf.

London Borough of Havering Pension Fund (Standard Life Investments)

Buckinghamshire County Council Pension Fund (Standard Life Investments)

Somerset County Council Pension Fund (Standard Life Investments)

London Borough of Bromley Superannuation Fund (Fidelity)

Hertfordshire County Council Pension Fund (JPMorgan Asset Management)

Lancashire County Council Pension Fund (JPMorgan Asset Management)

London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Pension Fund (Goldman Sachs Asset Management)

Shropshire County Council Pension Fund (Goldman Sachs Asset Management)

Warwickshire County Council Pension Fund (State Street Global Advisors)

London Borough of Lambeth Superannuation Fund (UBS Global Asset Management)

Wandsworth Borough Council Pension Fund (UBS Global Asset Management)

North Yorkshire Pension Fund  (BNY Mellon Wealth Management)

London Mining Network has written to councillors in most of these local authorities, making the points below. If you live in one of these areas, you may wish to write to your local councillor, making similar points. Since investments change, it is possible that some of these pension funds will no longer have beneficial holdings in Vedanta by the time you write. We will try to update this list frequently.

The Independent’s Investment Column recently carried an article headlined “If You Can Stomach It, Vedanta Is A Good Buy” (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/sharewatch/investment-column-if-you-can-stomach-it-vedanta-is-a-good-buy-2013986.html). The reason that one may not wish to “stomach it” is the awful environmental and human rights record of this company.

Actor Michael Palin wrote to The Independent in response to this piece (see “Bulldozer threat to forest people” at http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/letters/letters-perspectives-on-teaching-history-2015145.html – scroll down to Michael Palin’s letter).

This is the reason that The Church of England, the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, the Marlborough Ethical Fund, the Norwegian government’s sovereign pension fund, Martin Currie, BP’s pension fund and the Millfield House Foundation have all sold their investments in the company, citing environmental and human rights concerns.

PIRC (the Pension Investment Research Council), which advises the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, published a damning critique of Vedanta’s corporate governance, and advised investors to vote against the company’s Board on a number of key issues to be discussed at the company’s AGM in London on 28 July 2010. Their report is available at http://www.pirc.co.uk/sites/default/files/Vedanta%202010.pdf.

In 2009 the UK government condemned Vedanta, declaring a ‘change in the company’s behaviour [is] essential’, a change that has not been forthcoming. (See http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/4980.)

For more details of Vedanta’s reprehensible record, please see a letter sent to Vedanta shareholders by London Mining Network and other environment and human rights organizations in April this year. The letter is available at http://londonminingnetwork.org/2010/05/lmn-and-others-write-to-investors-in-vedanta/. You may also wish to watch a very moving 10 minute film at http://www.survivalinternational.org/films/mine as well as a longer feature film shown on More 4 earlier this year and available at http://www.channel4.com/programmes/cowboys-in-india/episode-guide/series-1/episode-1.

Early in July, Dutch asset manager PGGM became the latest major investor to withdraw its investments in Vedanta Resources for “persistently ignoring” the environment and human rights (see http://londonminingnetwork.org/2010/07/dutch-manager-pggm-drops-indias-vedanta-over-ethical-concerns/).

Please use your influence to persuade your council likewise to disinvest from this company at the earliest opportunity. If possible, the council should make a public statement explaining its reasons for doing so.

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