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Vanguard bowing to calls for ethical fund

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 6/09/2016

A major global fund manager says it's trying to come up with an ethical option for KiwiSaver investors after complaints it was putting money into companies linked to cluster-bombs and landmines.

Last month it was revealed four default KiwiSaver providers were indirectly investing in weapons manufacturers through passive funds with fund manager Vanguard International.

Since then Westpac, ASB and Grosvenor have moved their money out of the fund, while Kiwibank is reviewing the investment.

On Wednesday, Vanguard's head of market strategy Robin Bowerman told Radio NZ the company was looking at setting up an ethical fund for Kiwisaver providers.

"We're very keen to actually find a solution that'll work for New Zealand investors so we can continue to operate there," he said.

He said while the setting up of a new fund would be a priority, it would take some time because of regulatory hurdles.

But he said there was still confusion about what ethical requirements the industry was looking for for the fund.

"Is it just armaments. Is it other things? It is nuclear? In other parts of the world tobacco is an issue... We think if we actually get an agreement on that with a baseline of stocks that is acceptable to the New Zealand investors then that will be relatively straightforward."

Amnesty International last week made a complaint to police over the investments - saying investing in cluster weapons was specifically banned in law - but no investigation has yet been launched.

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