Eighteen months after the launch of a major global campaign to persuade money managers to black-list tobacco stocks, few European investors have responded to the rallying cry, with just one major investor selling off its exposure to the sector.Stuart McDill reports.
Investors just can't give up tobacco. Only one major European investor agreeing to divest tobacco stocks after 18 months of global campaigning. More than 30 Australian pension funds have gone Tobacco Free But the habit is harder to break in Europe. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS CHIEF FUNDS CORRESPONDENT, SIMON JESSOP, SAYING: "We've gone out to a whole load of asset managers in the States and in Europe to ask them their view on tobacco divestment. None of them have said that they would be willing to follow in the footsteps of the Australian pension schemes and divest completely. From their perspectives its about creating products that give investors such as pension schemes the opportunity to invest or not in a tobacco stock." Tobacco Free Portfolios one European recruit - a significant one the French life insurer Axa - its policy now prevention rather than cure. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS CHIEF FUNDS CORRESPONDENT, SIMON JESSOP, SAYING: "Axa's really thrown down the gauntlet and that was what was missing arguably from the broader divestment campaign in years gone by. You did have endowments, university endowments, charities, health organisations that would deliberately seek to exclude tobacco from their investments but when you get a mainstream investor, it's still a watershed moment." The campaign wants $60 billion dollars invested in tobacco divested. But with companies required by law to make as much as they can. Investing in smoking may be as hard to give up as the unhealthy habit itself.