GLOBAL - Barclays Global Investors (BGI) has come under fire for its stake in a company that is believed to have brought massive destruction to the Indonesian rainforest.
HSBC Asset Management, Credit Suisse Asset Management, Deutsche Asset Management, and ABN Amro Asset Management are also the target of a nationwide protest by Friends of the Earth. HSBC Bank; Barclays Capital; Bank of China; Credit Suisse First Boston; Deutsche Bank, and ABN Amro Bank are also believed to be involved in the billion dollars financing of the Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) company.
APP has a debt of £9bn and is currently in talks with creditors to reschedule its loans. The company is accused by Friends of the Earth of being responsible for clearing over 280,000 hectares of rainforest in Indonesia during the last decade, with plans to clear-cut another 300,000 hectares over the next five years. The move is thought to threaten wildlife habitats. APP is also believed to involved in a joint venture pulp plantation which may force 20,000 people off their land in Malaysia.
According to Friends of the Earth, BGI has more than £9m of shares in APP and is believed to be one of the five biggest stakeholders. The bank is also understood to have arranged and participated in loans to APP worth over £400m. HSBC also holds a 0.3% shareholding in an APP subsidiary.
Friends of the Earth corporate campaigner Ed Matthew said that the current debt negotiations could be used as a “real opportunity” to put pressure on APP to stop destroying more forests and abusing the rights of local communities. The organisation wants firms to introduce a uniform ‘Forest Policy’ to control future forest damage. Matthew added that ABN has recently instituted its own policy, although it is unclear how this will be negotiated with APP.
By Madhu Kalia
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