Comment on report of funds’ holdings in Lundin Petroleum

A new report from Swedwatch and Fair Finance Guide reviews the investments of banks and pension funds in Lundin Petroleum, as the company is allegedly linked to human rights violations in southern Sudan. During the last five years, SEB's fund management company has conducted active and forward-looking engagement work with Lundin Petroleum. Focus has been on sustainability competence in the company's Board and management team, as well as openness and transparency regarding the company's previous operations in southern Sudan.

Background

In the report, Lundin Petroleum and representatives of the company are accused of violating human rights in the field of oil exploration in southern Sudan between 1998 and 2003. During the period a civil war was ongoing in which crimes were committed against the local population. Lundin Petroleum built roads and a bridge, and restaurated an airport. According to the accusations this facilitated transporting of troops and bombing in the area. The company also hired security companies where the allegations apply to the use of children as soldiers or security personnel.

What investments do you have in the company?

SEB has no holdings of Lundin Petroleum in its actively managed funds," says Hans Ek, responsible for sustainability and ownership related questions within Investment Management. Some of SEB's index funds have holdings in the company. Index funds must, by law, reflect their benchmark. It is therefore not possible today to exclude Lundin Petroleum as an investigation is still being conducted by Swedish prosecutors about operations in southern Sudan, and the company has not been found guilty.

What do you do to influence the situation?

We have worked proactively with Lundin Petroleum for the prosecutors to be able to investigate the actions in Sudan thoroughly. We have specifically emphasized the importance of transparency and openness by the company. We have also described what we require from the company regarding their own sustainability work, since sustainability in various dimensions is a natural part of the work of the Board and management of the company and is a prerequisite for something like this not to happen again.

Since autumn 2016, SEB's fund company has been represented in Lundin Petroleum's Nomination Committee and has hereby had the opportunity to impact the composition of the Board, focusing on sustainability skills from a broad perspective. The Nomination Committee will propose Jakob Thomasen as new member of the Board. Thomasen has a background in the Maersk Group and has extensive experience in security and sustainability issues related to the oil industry. Thomasen will be a good complement to the Board and this is a concrete example of the impact of our engagement work.

Over the past five years, Lundin Petroleum has strengthened its management team in sustainability skills and begun to actively engage in global networks linked to the oil industry and sustainability area. Overall, this shows how the company has changed its way of working as a consequence of active engagement work by SEB and other investors.

We have chosen to focus on the future while the history is being investigated. These things happened more than 15 years ago and Lundin Petroleum is a different company today. We said in 2012 that we would wait for the Swedish prosecutor's investigation to see whether or not crimes were committed. We have not changed our position, but understand that the time aspect can be frustrating. In case the management of the company is prosecuted of the crimes committed in southern Sudan, we will raise the question of possible indemnities directly with the company and its Board.