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Aegon Asset Management to exclude tobacco companies

Aegon Asset Management will exclude tobacco producers from equity and fixed-income investments in the next few years, the Dutch money manager said in its 2017 responsible investment report.

The manager currently has €500 million ($597 million) of fixed-income assets with tobacco companies. However, these bonds will be held until maturity, a spokesman said. He added that equity investments will be excluded "as quickly as possible" but he did not disclose the size of the total divestment that will be made. "We have not provided a timeline," he said.

Marc van Weede, head of strategy and sustainability, said in the report: "Aegon decided to exclude tobacco this year because it didn't fit with our focus on financial security and well-being. We say we want our customers to enjoy long, healthy lives. Investing in tobacco just isn't compatible with that. However, it goes too far to say that everyone should do this. It is for each individual investor to make this trade-off, keeping in mind that they are allocating funds for their ultimate beneficiaries."

Aegon already excludes manufacturers of controversial weapons and thermal coal mining companies from its investments, according to the report. It excludes investments in all companies that derive more than 30% of their revenues from thermal coal production and companies that manufacture, develop, trade or maintain biological weapons, chemical weapons, anti-personnel mines and cluster bombs.

Aegon Asset Management has $382 billion in assets under management.