Friday February 18, 2011

Lingui says its businesses open and transparent

PETALING JAYA: Lingui Developments Bhd, which has been excluded from Norway’s sovereign wealth fund because of its alleged “contribution to severe environmental damage,” said it practised open and transparent businesses.

In a statement yesterday, the company said its parent, Samling Global Ltd, had also been excluded from the fund last year.

“For some years now, the Norwegian Pension Fund has made it a practice to announce divestments from companies it had invested on a variety of grounds. It has pulled out of companies such as Walmart, Rio Tinto and Philip Morris.

“Last year, our parent company, Samling, was excluded from its (the fund’s) ‘investment universe’. This year, it is Lingui. Both are public listed, and governed by rules and regulations of their respective bourses.”

Samling is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and Lingui on Bursa Malaysia. The latter said that as public-listed companies, both had open and transparent businesses, and had welcomed investors to visit their operations.

“A few financial institutions have done so. Unfortunately, the Norwegian Pension Fund, or its representatives, is not one of them.

“If they had, they would have had a deeper understanding of our operations. Lingui is committed to sustainable forestry, and we will continue our journey in this direction. We are long-term players, with a history going back to more than 40 years.”

Lingui said both companies (Lingui and Samling) were mindful of the importance of ensuring that their forest resources were continuously renewed to sustain the environment and ultimately, their business.

It was reported yesterday that Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s second largest, had excluded Lingui from its portfolio, citing the timber company’s contribution to “severe environmental damage.”

The US$546bil fund had completed its divestment from the company, which was involved in operations in tropical rainforests, the Norwegian Finance Ministry said in a statement on its website.

The fund held 2.7 million kroner (US$466,000) worth of shares in Lingui at the end of 2009.

The ministry is responsible for deciding whether to exclude any of the about 8,500 companies the fund invests in, based on recommendations from the Ethics Council.

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