Camden Council pension fund has £6 million locked up in Russian fuel companies

Closed markets means fund managers can't even think about trying to get the money out

Friday, 4th March — By Richard Osley

5PS 5 Pancras Square Image 2021-02-24 at 14.37.51 (3)

CAMDEN has around £6 million of pension fund investments locked up in Russian companies, it emerged last night (Thursday).

Officers were asked to detail how far the council was exposed due to the invasion of Ukraine as they appeared at a committee meeting,

Nigel Mascarenhas, the Town Hall’s head of treasury and financial services, told councillors: “We had a look across our portfolios and have been talking to fund managers. As a proportion of the fund, the amount invested in Russian companies – not Ukranian companies – is 0.27 per cent, which amounts to about £6 million in investments.”

He added: “Markets are shut now so we can’t even sell – that’s difficult – or they [fund managers working for Camden] can’t sell, but they are mindful of these kind of risks. Most of the companies, if you look at the types of names, it’s all around oil, lots of it is. Russia is the second largest oil and gas producer in the world.”

Committee chair Labour councillor Rishi Madlani said he had already asked for updates about the pension fund exposure.

Mr Mascarenhas said: “We have put some pressure on these managers about what they are doing and we will continue to do that, but if markets aren’t operating normally it’s very difficult to even consider disinvesting.”

The original question had been asked by Green councillor Lorna Russell, whose party has repeatedly urged the council to divest from fossil fuel companies on the grounds of the climate emergency.

“I am really concerned about the pension fund’s exposure to Russian oil and gas companies, which are at this devastating time will impact its financial performance,” she said.

“It’s one more reason we should divest the fund from fossil fuels entirely to meet our net zero commitments, with evidence increasingly showing that this would not have a negative impact on long-term returns for our members.”

Camden’s independent adviser to the pension fund Karen Shackleton told councillors:
“You should steel yourself for a tricky quarter – quarter one – because of the ramifications and the knock on effects on fuel prices worldwide, and wheat worldwide.

“Just general volatility in the markets. The fund has already had a very high degree of diversification and this is when it will absolutely play to your advantage. “

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