Trustees of the pension fund for members of parliament have agreed to sell all investments linked to Russia after a cross-party group of more than 60 MPs raised concerns about connections to Russian oil and gas companies.
The trustees met last Thursday, having received the MPs’ letter, and agreed to act immediately to ensure the fund was cleansed of both direct and indirect Russian interests.
The Labour MP Clive Betts, a member of the board of trustees, said: “Should we be disinvesting from Russian interests? Yes, as quickly and as far as possible, though we have to do this through our fund managers.”
A host of international companies have ceased or paused business with Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. Last week McDonald’s, Starbucks, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo bowed to public pressure and suspended operations in Russia. Big public and private pension funds are now under pressure to clean up their portfolios and investigate how funds they have invested in are linked to Russia.
In their letter to the trustees, co-ordinated by the Green party’s Caroline Lucas, the MPs noted that in the 2020 annual review of the fund, HSBC was listed as one of the scheme’s top 20 holdings. “According to Bloomberg data, HSBC, through its asset management arm, owns equity stakes in five of the biggest Russian oil and gas companies – Gazprom, Rosneft, Tatneft, Lukoil and Novatek,” the MPs wrote.
“HSBC doesn’t just do business with Russian oil and gas companies – it owns them. We therefore call for the immediate withdrawal of the fund’s investments from HSBC and from any other companies that are implicated in Russia in similar ways.”
Documents about the fund show that about 49% is invested in global equities, and 8% in European loans.
Lucas welcomed the trustees’ commitment and called for a “root and branch investigation so we can be confident that not one penny of our pension funds are directly or indirectly linked with Putin’s murderous regime”.
Last week, the Church of England announced it had sold all £20m of investments in Russian companies in response to what the archbishops of Canterbury and York described as Vladimir Putin’s “act of evil” in Ukraine.
The Local Government Pension Scheme advisory board has also told its members running schemes for councils around Britain to examine their portfolios for links to Russia.
An HSBC spokesperson said: “In recent days, we have suspended our Russia-only funds and …….