Denmark's Largest Pension Fund Divests From German Firm Which Operates Quarries in Israeli Settlements

FPA Pension states it doesn’t want to contribute in any way to illegal activity in West Bank; decision constitutes relatively exceptional 'tertiary boycott' of multinational firms that have ties with Israeli companies that operate in West Bank.

Illustration: An Israeli quarry in the West Bank.
Dror Atkes, Yesh Din

Denmark’s largest private pension and insurance fund, FPA Pension, with assets of close to $50 billion, is withdrawing its investments from the international construction materials conglomerate HeidelbergCement, because of its indirect involvement in exploiting the natural resources of the occupied West Bank.

In its announcement, FPA said that it doesn’t want to contribute in any way to illegal activity in the West Bank. It said that during 2015 it examined divesting from companies that exploit natural resources in contravention of international law. The examination showed that HeidelbergCement is involved in such activity in a manner not in keeping with the pension fund’s policy of “responsible investing.”

The decision is a relatively exceptional way of divesting from companies that operate in the West Bank. It is a tertiary boycott – not a boycott against a settlement product or an Israeli company that produces it, but against international entities or companies that have economic ties with Israeli companies that operate in the West Bank. 

This is the second Scandinavian insurance company to divest from HeidelbergCement in the past half year. In June, the large Norwegian insurance company KLP also announced its divestment from HeidelbergCement because it operates quarries in the West Bank through Israeli subsidiaries and is thus exploiting the national resources of an occupied area in violation of the Geneva Convention.  

KLP held less than $5 million in HeidelbergCement stock. In its June announcement, it said it had sold all the stock by June 1. 

HeidelbergCement, a German company, is one of the largest construction materials companies in the world, operating in more than 40 countries. In 2007 it acquired the British firm Hanson, which, through its subsidiary, Hanson Israel, operates quarries in Area C of the West Bank, which is under total Israeli control. 

Under the Hague Convention and the Fourth Geneva Convention, which define the “laws of occupation,” it is forbidden to use the natural resources of an occupied area if the profits from this benefit the occupiers and not the residents of the area.