Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Comic Relief being "done over" by BBC Panorama over investments

I see from the headlines that the BBC flagship investigation programme Panorama will tonight  damage the reputation of Comic Relief because the charity's fund managers invest some of its money in tobacco, alcohol and arms firms.

The Church of England got itself into a similar pickle a little while ago over its pension investment in "Wonga".

The question is not whether charities or pension funds should invest in these companies or not. It is what are they doing with their voting powers and influence given by this shareholding. They should be holding companies to account. While I have some sympathy with disinvestment in Big Tobacco if you start not investing in anything to do with alcohol or "arms" manufacturing, where do you stop?

Don't invest in Banks or insurance companies because they are usurious? don't invest in mining stocks or oil extraction because they ruin the environment? don't invest in drug companies since they experiment on animals?

Needless to say the BBC appear to be just a rather hypocritical here. I have just looked at the BBC pension fund and guess what....they have :-

British American Tobacco - £37.8 million
Imperial Tobacco Group - £30.9 million
BAE Systems - £25.3 million
Reynolds American - £18.9
SABMiller - £22.3
Diageo - £14.7
Greene King - £8.2

They are full of "sin" stocks and this is just the closed DB scheme. How much is invested in their DC and AVC schemes? It is waste of time to indulge in finger pointing over investment issues. You need to get your hands dirty and engage with companies to try and sort them out, not just running away and dis-investing.

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