With the exclusion and thus divestment of the Italian oil and gas company, ENI, the era in AkademikerPension's history of active ownership of the world's largest upstream oil and gas companies ends.
"After several years, where we together with other investors, have tried to get these companies to change their climate course, we have to realize that the top management in the oil and gas sector simply refuse to do so in manner consistent with the goals of the Paris agreement. Therefore, we have now sold off and excluded ENI, the last remaining upstream fossil fuel company in our portfolio", says our chief investment officer, Anders Schelde.
Searching for oil in the Arctic
The vast majority of oil majors were excluded from the portfolio several years ago, but ENI was allowed to remain as an eligible investment while we tried to influence management via active ownership.
“However, after a meeting with ENI this spring, it was clear that fossil fuel expansion and exploration remain a central part of the business strategy. For AkademikerPension, this is the main reason for the exclusion, as there is no room for new fossil fuel projects in Paris-compatible scenarios, according to the International Energy Agency, and we believe that doing so exposes ENI to unacceptable long term risks.”
“Through a subsidiary, ENI will expand exploration for oil in vulnerable Arctic areas, which just confirms to us that ENI is a company that belongs on our exclusion list and not in our portfolio", says Anders Schelde.
A frustrating situation
When it comes to the world's largest oil and gas companies, he believes that the time has come to divest rather than pressing on as an active owner.
"The climate crisis is here and it is now, and we have to act. When we and other investors sell our holdings it puts upward pressure on the capital costs of the fossil fuel companies. All things being equal, it will therefore be more expensive for them to raise capital to fund their capex, and thus hopefully it will also mean less new fossil related capex going forward. Furthermore, and maybe even more important, it sends a strong market signal to the board and top management to change course.”
He is satisfied with having excluded all large upstream oil, coal and gas companies, but is also frustrated that it has ended this way.
"These companies should take the lead and show the way for the green transition, they have the capital and resources to do so. Instead, they do the opposite and continue down a pitch-black path that we do not want to follow in any way", he says.
The ENI stake was 33 million DKK before the decision to divest.
In total, the divested shares and bonds in oil, gas and thermal coal amount to 3.7 billion DKK since 2018. The AUM is currently 136 billion DKK.
Please see the oil & gas exclusion list.
From an investment return perspective the divestment decision of AkademikerPension have been neutral to slightly positive since 2018.