UK/MYANMAR - Tobacco giant BAT is being quizzed about its operations in Myanmar (Burma) by leading socially responsible investor Insight Investment - the asset management arm of HBOS.
Insight’s head of investor responsibility, Craig Mackenzie, has written to BAT’s chief executive asking why the firm is working in a joint venture with the Myanmar government.
The government has received international condemnation over its refusal to accept the result of national elections within the country.
Mackenzie said: “We have written to the firm asking it to explain to us how it believes it is right to remain in Burma, given that the company has made a number of fairly explicit commitments to corporate responsibility and human rights.”
He added that when Insight receives a response from BAT it will discuss the matter further with other investors and fund managers.
Insight is a member of the Institutional Investors Group on Burma which is believed to have encouraged Premier Oil to withdraw from the country this year – a move that subsequently led to the oil company’s share price rising.
MacKenzie also revealed that Insight is in talks with supermarket giant Tesco over its expanding overseas presence.
Insight wants Tesco to implement a full set of socially responsible policies for its international activities.
*Insight has launched an investor responsibility service that will act as an additional overlay to pension funds whose equities it manages or as a free-standing overlay service for funds which manage their assets in-house.
The service employs active shareholder engagement with companies held in client portfolios, to encourage best practice and to alert them to reputational risk issues.
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