Nordea Asset Management drops JBS over deforestation, corruption, worker health
30 Jul 2020

Nordea Asset Management dropped Brazilian meat giant JBS SA from all its funds this month over concerns stemming from the company’s handling of deforestation, corruption charges and employee health and safety amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Helsinki-based money manager made the decision “after a period of engagement with the company, where we did not feel that we were seeing the response that we were looking for,” Eric Pedersen, head of responsible investments at Nordea Asset Management, told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.

Mr. Pedersen said the investment firm, which has some €223 billion ($261.8 billion) under management, pulled around €40 million from JBS following a separate decision last year to not buy more into the company.

The move comes as JBS continues to face allegations of fueling deforestation by purchasing cattle from protected lands in the Amazon rainforest. In June, nonprofit Greenpeace said that JBS—along with other Brazilian meat producers—had bought cattle from a farm that sourced the animals from another ranch in a protected reserve in the Mato Grosso region.

Under Brazilian law, deforestation is largely forbidden and meatpackers must ensure that they slaughter cattle coming from ranches with a clean environmental record, but it is difficult for companies to guarantee there hasn’t been so called “cattle laundering” where cows spend time in illegal pastures before moving to legal ones.

JBS said in an emailed response to questions that it wasn’t given the opportunity to demonstrate to Nordea “its total commitment to the transparency of its relationships and the sustainability of its operations.”

“JBS maintains a consistent compliance program,” it said, adding that it is “totally committed to eradicating deforestation throughout its supply chain.”

Brazil’s powerful agroindustry has pressured the government of President Jair Bolsonaro to fight deforestation more efficiently and polish the country’s deteriorating environmental credentials in coveted export markets and among investors.

By Dieter Holger and Paulo Trevisani, The Wall Street Journal, 28 July 2020

Read more at The Wall Street Journal

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