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Ethical Council of Sweden’s AP Funds presents annual report for 2008: Successful dialogues with the companies

The Ethical Council of Sweden’s First to Fourth AP Funds has today presented its annual report for 2008, in which the Council reports on the past year’s progress in ongoing dialogues with companies suspected of violating the ethical guidelines governing the four Funds’ investments. The dialogues in 2008 were successful in several cases, and the Ethical Council can clearly see that it is making a difference.

The breaches of conventions identified by the Ethical Council are often indications that a company has not acknowledged its responsibility for incidents or taken an adequately proactive approach to environmental and social issues. In 2008 the Ethical Council met face-to-face the majority of companies it is currently in dialogue with around the world and discussed the various cases of violations which the Ethical Council has called attention to. The companies have shown a serious interest in the Ethical Council’s views and most have taken steps to address the problems quickly.

One of many indications that the Council’s efforts are making a difference is the case of France-based Sodexo, which after contact with the Ethical Council quickly formulated and implemented a human rights policy following an incident at a refugee detention centre in the UK.

The company dialogues pursued by the Ethical Council are part of a systematic process used by the Council to identify breaches against the AP Funds’ ethical guidelines for investment. In talks with a few of the companies, the Council has chosen to cooperate with other investors to increase its leverage and the opportunities to exert an influence. The Ethical Council also supports a number of international initiatives aimed at achieving greater transparency in corporate reporting and promoting corporate social responsibility.

”It is satisfying to see that our dialogues with the companies are effective and that the companies can be persuaded to take action. This approach to bringing about changes and improvements requires patience and the establishment of mutual respect and trust, and is a strategy that is well suited to the long-term nature of the four Funds’ investments and professional relationships,” says Christina Kusoffsky Hillesöy, Chairwoman of the Ethical Council.

Read more about the Ethical Council’s company dialogues and activities in the past in the annual report for 2008, which can be downloaded from www.ethicalcouncil.com and www.ap3.se

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For more information contact:
Christina Kusoffsky Hillesöy, Chairman of the Ethical Council in 2009
E-mail: ethicalcouncil@ges-invest.com , Tel: +46 (0)8-555 17 123

About Ethical Council
The First to Fourth AP Funds (AP1-AP4) are buffer funds in the Swedish national pension system. The four competing AP Funds have a common mission: to invest Sweden’s pension capital so as to achieve the greatest possible benefit for the pension system and generate high long-term returns with a low level of risk. In doing so, the Funds must take ethical and environmental consideration without compromising the overall objective of attaining a high return.

At the beginning of 2007 the Ethical Council was formed to coordinate SRI analysis of environmental and ethical compliance in the foreign companies where the Funds have holdings. The ethical and environmental policies of the Funds are therefore based on the core values of the Swedish Government as expressed through its foreign policy and signing of international conventions. The purpose of the Ethical Council is to combine the four funds’ resources and votes for greater leverage in influencing the foreign companies in which they invest to conduct their operations without violating the Funds’ ethical guidelines for investment.