Major European pension funds have attacked mining firm Anglo American over its involvement in a Zimbabwean platinum mining operation.
Michael Nellemann Pedersen, CIO of Denmark's DKK114bn (US$24bn) PKA fund, told Global Pensions it was not the fund's mandate to conduct foreign politics, but it was in dialogue with the company.
Similarly, Denmark's DKK440bn (US$92bn) ATP fund said it was considering divesting from the company, while APG, the asset management arm of the Ä215bn (US$339.5bn) Dutch ABP fund, said it was in active dialogue with the company about a range of sustainability and corporate responsibility issues, including its investment in Zimbabwe.
Both the £30bn (US$59bn) University Superannuation Scheme and the $240bn California Public Employees' Retirement System, which has a $340m stake in Anglo American, said they had no current plans to divest as they were not permitted to make decisions based purely on ethical or moral factors.
However, asset managers are keeping an eye on Zimbabwe, once a net exporter of grain to southern Africa, for future investment opportunities.
Alex Tarver, global emerging markets specialist with Halbis, a boutique asset management division of HSBC Global Asset Management, said: "While there are issues of transparency, corporate governance and support from the civil service in investing in Zimbabwe, we're not saying 'no, never' - things will have to change."
Jonathan Stichbury, managing director and chief executive of AIG Investments Africa, based in Kenya, said from an economic and political standpoint, the country was in poor shape.
He added: "There is no indication as to how and where it will end but there are opportunistic investors out there. Assets are cheap but you can't quantify when you'd make fair value for them."
A spokesperson for Anglo American declined to comment but in a statement said the platinum mining project was a long term investment which was yet to start production.
The company added it was "deeply concerned" about the current political situation and condemned the violence and human rights abuses taking place.
A number of pension schemes have been prompted to lock in gains with a move into bonds after the estimated deficit across FTSE 100 DB pension schemes improved by £36bn, over the 12 months ending 30 June last year, JLT Employment Benefits found.
HM Treasury has agreed in principle to give NEST a £329m contingent liability guarantee in the event of the master trust's wind up or closure.
AMP Capital has set up a dedicated team to help institutional investors, including pension funds, invest in infrastructure through direct equity allocations.