Norway Investment Fund Pulls Out Of Duke Energy
One of the world's largest investment funds is selling all its Duke Energy bonds and shares. The government of Norway's pension fund has been a major Duke investor. But lately it's been divesting from companies that make money by mining or burning coal.
Norway's central bank, Norges Bank, said Wednesday it’s barring investments in Duke Energy and three subsidiaries, citing "the risk of severe environmental damage."
Duke faces billions of dollars of costs and decades of work to clean up coal ash stored at its coal-burning power plants.
The bank’s move wasn’t a surprise. It announced last year it was planning to pull back from investments not only in fossil fuel-related businesses, but also in those with a history of problems with human rights, the environment, and corruption.
Duke joins more than 100 companies on Norway’s hit list.
Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Kit Konolige said Norway's move could prompt other investors to take a closer look at investments not only in Duke, but also in similar companies.
“It's not so much this particular move, it's ... does this signal that others are moving in the same direction? And I would say so far, we haven't seen a lot of movement in the same direction. But we'll see,” Konolige said.
Norway’s global pension fund – ironically, built with profits from North Sea oil drilling - owns roughly 4.7 million shares, worth about 378 million dollars. But that's less than 1 percent of Duke's total shares.
Duke had been discussing the possible divestment with Norges Bank since last year. Spokeswoman Catherine Butler said the move was disappointing, but not a surprise.
“What's unfortunate is that the bank did not consider our proactive actions to not only enhance our environmental stewardship but also the significant progress that we've made closing ash basins across not only in north Carolina but across our jurisdictions as whole,” Butler said.
Duke's shares were down slightly Wednesday. They've fallen about 7 percent since late July.