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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pension Fund Sheds Land Mines

AMSTERDAM -- In a victory for advocates of "socially responsible" investment, one of the world's largest pension funds said Friday that it has dumped its stock holdings in companies that make land mines.

In addition, the Netherlands' ABP said in a statement that it would reveal its entire stock portfolio of around 3,000 public companies when it publishes its annual report April 12.

"We had already decided to go this route," ABP spokesman Thijs Steger said. "That plan has been a little accelerated now."

Unlike in the United States, where large mutual and pension funds have been required to publicly disclose their investments since the 1970s, European funds have no such obligation, and few do.

ABP, with 209 billion euros ($279 billion) in assets, was stung in March by a television program that revealed it held stock in military contractors -- including some involved with the manufacture of land mines, cluster bombs and nuclear weapons.

ABP serves schoolteachers and civil servants, many of whom find such weapons unethical.

"Retirement fund managers must take into account the values of the people they represent," said Lidwine Dallaert, an employee of the city of Haarlemmermeer, who has a pension with ABP.

Steger confirmed that the fund has divested from U.S. companies Textron, General Dynamics, Alliant Techsystems, and from Singapore Technologies Engineering after receiving hundreds of complaints.

He said the company was in the process of "reviewing" its other military investments.

ABP's move is part of a larger trend of big funds agreeing to use the clout they wield as institutional investors to push social causes.

Europe's largest fund, the 219 billion euro Norwegian state pension fund, maintains a public blacklist of companies it does not buy stocks in for ethical reasons.

Last year, "untouchables" included household names like Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Wal-Mart Stores.