Ukraine invasion means council pension fund must sell any investment in Russian companies say Lib Dems

A template press release asking council leaders and chairs of pension funds to divest any shareholing it may have in companies that have invested in Russia


 

Divest Russian Assets #LocalGovernmentStandsWithUkraine

Following the horrific news of Russia invading Ukraine, Local Liberal Democrat Councillor [YOUR NAME] has written to [NAME OF COUNCIL LEADER/CHAIR OF PENSION FUND COMMITTEE] to ask that its pension fund divest any shareholing it may have in companies that have invested in Russia.

“In common with so many other local people, I am sickened by what is happening on the streets of Ukraine and our own pension fund should make its feelings clear by divesting any assets it may hold in companies with Russian investments.

“I believe our council’s pension fund should also take a stand, and if it does hold any shares in Russian companies – or those who have invested in Russia - to divest without delay”.

“I understand the need to ensure our pension scheme gets a good level of return for its members. As such I am also of the view that our pension fund should be divesting from anything subject to sanctions as it risks that level of return”.

Cllr Joe Harris, Leader of the Liberal Democrats at the Local Government Association said: “Others have taken action – the Church of England is divesting its £20 million in shareholdings in Russian companies and BP is selling its 19.75% stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft, and Shell is divesting from Gazprom. I encourage local government pension schemes to divest any shares they hold”.  

Liberal Democrat Communities Spokesperson Tim Farron MP said:

Vladimir Putin must pay a terrible price for his entirely unprovoked decision to invade Ukraine. We must stand with the people of Ukraine, and enact the most punitive of severe sanctions upon the Russian regime.

It’s time to end the era of Russian interference in this country. UK companies, public bodies and pension funds should be looking closely at their financial links to Russia and doing the right thing.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  1. Below is the letter from Councillor [YOUR NAME] to [NAME OF COUNCIL LEADER/PENSION FUND CHAIR]
  2. The Local Government Pensions Advisory Board has advised that “In the light of events in Ukraine and resultant extant and potential sanctions by the UK government any LGPS funds who are not already doing so are advised to consider the implications for their investment portfolio”  

Draft letter to council leader/pension fund committee chair

Dear [council leader/pension fund committee chair],

I am writing to you following the horrific news of Russia invading Ukraine, and the very strong international condemnation of this.

We must all do what we can to oppose this invasion and I am writing to raise two points:

  1. Does the [INSERT NAME HERE] pension fund hold any investments in Russian companies or those who invest in Russia?
  2. If so, will you support my request that the pension fund divest any such shareholding as soon as possible?

. You may have seen the recent news that:

  • the Church of England is divesting its £20 million in shareholdings in Russian companies
  • BP is selling its 19.75 per cent stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft.

Our pension fund should be doing the same and send a message that Russia must end the war against Ukraine.

I have also seen advice from the Local Government Pension Scheme Advisory Board as follows:

…In the light of events in Ukraine and resultant sanctions by the UK government any LGPS funds who are not already doing so are advised to consider the implications for their investment portfolios and discuss with their pools and asset managers what action should prudently be taken...

I understand the need to ensure our pension scheme gets a good level of return for its members. As such I am also of the view that our pension fund should be divesting from anything subject to sanctions as it risks that level of return.

Finally I am aware that pension schemes may (according to the Law Commission) make investment decisions for purely non-financial reasons if the financial impact is not significant and the members of schemes are likely to agree with that course of action.

So I am asking for [our council’s] pension fund to divest – as a matter of urgency – from any shareholdings it has in Russian companies.

I look forward to your reply

Yours etc