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Ethical investment funds contemplate selling out of BP shares

22 June 2010 / by Rachael Stiles

Some ethical investment fund providers are considering pulling out of BP, but City Wire has questioned why they are investing in an oil company in the first place.

Some ethical funds invest in the oil industry, because, City Wire explains, they believe it is important to encourage the big companies to act in an environmentally friendly way, as they have the ability to make a greater impact - either for good or for bad.

Investing in firms like BP, the company responsible for the biggest environmental catastrophe in US history recently, a leak which continues to spill oil into the Gulf of Mexico, is classed as 'light green' investment.

But the small and dwindling number of ethical investment funds which invest in BP have been considering dropping their stock since it sprung a leak two months ago.

One such fund, M&S Ethical, is from the Marks & Spencer investment range; M&S received criticism when it launched the fund, and is now rethinking the inclusion of BP shares.

They are in direct opposition to the ethos behind setting up the fund, which was to invest in companies which seek to improve the environment and avoid those which damage or pollute it, it has said.

According to City Wire, other investment fund providers also made the controversial decision to put investors' money into BP but have yet to pull out.

The family Charities Ethical fund and the Co-operative Bank's UK FTSE4Good Tracker Fund have six and eight per cent of funds invested in BP, respectively.

Other investment providers have reconsidered having funds in BP in light of recent events and have withdrawn, due to its "ethically questionable" status and the fact that BP saw its share price plummet by a third since the crisis started, pushing BP to announce that no dividends will be paid to investors for the rest of the year.

The ethical investment providers which have reacted more swiftly than others to withdraw their funds from BP include Scottish Widows Investment Partnership, which has been out of BP since the beginning of April, and the Dow Jones Sustainability Index which dropped it at the beginning of June.

The latter took this action because it decided that the long-term impact of the oil spill will make it an unviable choice for those looking to invest in ethical funds.

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