The Norwegian Government Pension Fund – Global, Oslo, divested all of its interest in Wal-Mart citing alleged "serious and systematic violations of human rights and labor rights," according to a news release.
The 1.48 trillion Norwegian kroner ($245 billion) fund disposed of about 2.5 billion Norwegian kroner in stocks and bonds linked to the retail giant at the end of May. The decision followed recommendations by the Council on Ethics for the fund, which regularly assesses ethical issues such as violations of human rights, labor rights and environmental records as linked to companies in the fund's portfolio.
"The exclusions reflect our refusal to contribute to serious, systematic or gross violations of ethical norms in these areas," Minister of Finance Kristin Halvorsen said in a prepared statement.
"We really can't comment on any decisions that investors make," said Gail Lavielle, senior director of corporate communications at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Bentonville, Ark.
Fund officials also disposed of about 116 million Norwegian kroner in securities linked to Freeport McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc., New Orleans, due to alleged "serious environmental damage," according to the news release.
The company disagrees with the pension fund's assessment, according to a prepared statement. "We are fully committed to minimizing and mitigating our environmental impacts," William Collier, Freeport's vice president of communications, said in the statement.