New Zealand fund drops 3 firms over Israeli settlement construction

New Zealand Superannuation Fund, Auckland, excluded from its investment portfolio three companies involved in the construction of Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories, confirmed Catherine Etheredge, spokeswoman for the NZ$20 billion (US$16.9 billion) fund.

The companies are Africa-Israel Investments and its subsidiary Danya Cebus, Elbit Systems and Shikun & Binui.

The findings by the United Nations that the separation barrier and settlement activities were illegal under international law were central to the fund's decision to exclude the companies, Anne-Maree O'Connor, manager, responsible investment, said in a news release.

Officials at the superannuation fund also viewed the activities by the companies to be inconsistent with the U.N. Global Compact, which is a key benchmark it uses to measure corporate behavior.

All three stocks were held in the fund's passive global equity portfolio. Elbit shares, valued around NZ$37,000, were sold after the company was deleted from MSCI indexes in June. The fund had about NZ$30,000 invested in the other two companies as of Oct. 31. Shares in all of the companies have now been sold, Ms. Etheredge said in an e-mail.