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Saturday, May 26, 2018

Shipping's financiers turning tide on ship breaking practices

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The shipping industry has long been criticized by campaigners for allowing vessels to be broken up on beaches, endangering workers and polluting the sea and sand. Now, it is being called to account from a quarter that may have a bit more clout - its financial backers.

Norway's $1 trillion Oil Fund, a leader in ethical investing, in February sold its stake in four firms because they scrap on the beach.

Three of the firms excluded by Norway's fund - Taiwan's Evergreen Marine, Precious Shipping and Thoresen Thai Agencies (TTA) of Thailand - say they have been unfairly singled out. The fourth, Korea Line, declined to comment. Norwegian life insurer KLP soon followed, selling shares in the one of the four it owned and blacklisting the other three.

Further exclusions are likely, said KLP, the fund and its advisory Council on Ethics. The council's chief adviser, Aslak Skancke, said the divestments had already effected wider change, including encouraging companies to seek cleaner scrapping.

The fund contacted several firms in its portfolio during its investigation, Skancke said, "and when we made them aware of the possibility of exclusion from the fund, they ... decided to change their policy." He declined to name the companies.

-Reuters, London

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