Swedish funds sell out stakes on Potash Corp., Incitec Pivot over ‘ethical’ concerns

Four Swedish state pension funds will sell out of their holdings in potash producers Potash Corp. (TSX, NYSE: POT) and Incitec Pivot (ASX:IPL), as both companies are said to buy phosphate, a key fertilizer ingredient, from sources they qualified as off-limits.

The four institutions, known as the AP funds, said in a statement Tuesday they have decided to walk away from the potash producers mainly because "both companies [are] purchasers of phosphate from a Moroccan supplier that mines its product in Western Sahara, a disputed territory that is on the United Nations’ list of non-self-governing territories that should be decolonised."

In 2002, the UN's legal counsel advised that mineral resources from such area should not be extracted without the consent of local people.

The funds, which work together on ethical investment issues through a single Ethical Council, argue they have been in talks with the potash producers for about three years, aiming to get them to either "cease procurement of phosphate from Western Sahara" or to "prove that the extractive process complies with the interests and wishes of the Western Saharan people."

Since the companies haven’t been able to meet either of its demands, the Ethical Council is recommending the asset-sales.

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