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Current as of 05/12/16 07:39AM NZST
The Business Herald’s markets and banking reporter.

ASB KiwiSaver to exit weapons investments

A man inspects pieces of cluster bomb after an airstrike on residential ares in Idlib, Syria last week. ASB Bank says its KiwiSaver funds will no longer invest in certain weapons makers. Photo / Getty
A man inspects pieces of cluster bomb after an airstrike on residential ares in Idlib, Syria last week. ASB Bank says its KiwiSaver funds will no longer invest in certain weapons makers. Photo / Getty

ASB has joined Westpac and ANZ in confirming it will exit investments with exposure to manufacturers of cluster munitions, landmines and nuclear weapons.

The move follows a Herald investigation, Dirty Secrets of KiwiSaver, which revealed a number of KiwiSaver providers had signed up thousands of New Zealanders to funds with stakes in cluster bomb manufacturers, raising questions over whether these investments were breaking the law.

An ASB spokeswoman said the bank's funds did not directly hold shares in companies that manufactured munitions including cluster bombs and landmines.

"Following the first phase of our review and in response to feedback from customers, ASB funds will divest their holdings in global index-tracking funds that have exposure to those types of companies," she said.

"The process is underway and we expect the changes will be completed by 10 October. More broadly, we are continuing to look at whether there is another way we can provide investors with an alternative low cost, index tracking investment option that focuses on socially responsible investments."

On Tuesday Westpac said it had begun a process, which was the result of customer feedback, that would involve it exiting munitions investments.

"The process is under way and will be completed as soon as is practicable," Westpac said in a statement.

"Any exposure by Westpac KiwiSaver to companies that are involved in the manufacture of cluster bombs, landmines or nuclear explosive devices is not direct."

On Wednesday, ANZ - the country's biggest KiwiSaver provider - told Radio NZ that none of its funds held direct investments in cluster bomb makers.

But ANZ's investment board had voted this week to exit any direct holdings in companies that made "controversial" weapons including anti-personnel mines and nuclear armaments.

ANZ would also dump direct investments in tobacco companies and was considering exiting passive funds that had exposure to weapons firms.

A BNZ spokeswoman said the bank's KiwiSaver funds did not have any investments in cluster munitions or landmine manufacturers.

"We understand we have a small indirect exposure to companies involved with nuclear devices," she said. "We are currently reviewing this and considering excluding these investments."

- NZ Herald

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