A group of financial institutions: Co-operative Insurance Society, Ethos Investment Foundation, Friends Ivory & Sime, Henderson Global Investors, Jupiter Asset Management, Morley Fund Management, PGGM and the Universities Superannuation Scheme have joined forces to launch ‘Business Involvement in Myanmar (Burma) – A statement from institutional investors.’ Collectively the Group represents almost £400 billion in funds under management.The statement outlines the concerns raised by the presence of a military dictatorship in Burma and highlights the risks to shareholders in investing in companies that have interests in the country. The Group suggests that companies operating in unstable political climates can be exposed to loss of shareholder confidence, negative press and publicity campaigns, safety risks and corruption. In the case of Burma, there is also the possibility of a democratically elected government returning to power and penalising companies that supported the military regime.
The statement does not call for divestment, but urges companies to be aware of the risks and to establish effective policies and procedures for managing them. As such, it is consistent with the Socially Responsible Investment Guidelines recently issued by the Association of British Insurers (www.abi.org.co.uk). The statement calls upon those companies choosing to continue their business involvement there to adopt responsible business practices so as not to contribute to, or perpetuate, human rights abuses committed in the country.