Australian taxpayer fund plainly increasing tobacco investments

| October 16, 2012

Australia’s taxpayer-owned Future Fund spent more than $37 million investing in tobacco stocks at the same time as the government was finalising its law on the so-called ‘plain packaging’ of tobacco, according to a story in the Canberra Times.

In a move that has attracted fierce criticism from health groups; the fund’s stake in global tobacco companies has swollen by nearly 50 per cent in recent years to $210 million at the end of June.

Until now, the Fund, which is said to be independent of the government, had not said whether the increase in its tobacco stake had occurred because it had been buying more stock or if its existing shares had risen in value.

Now, however, the fund has revealed its managers bought more shares in tobacco companies before February this year.

In response to questions posed in May, the Fund has said that $37.8 million of the $78.0 million increase in its tobacco holdings between December 2010 and February this year was driven by increased buying.

Share price and currency movements accounted for the remaining $40.2 million of the increase, the fund said in response to a Senate estimates question.

The purchases occurred while the federal government was passing legislation for the ‘plain packaging’ of tobacco.

In response to its critics, the Future Fund argues the tobacco investments do not breach its internal policies because cigarettes are legal.

The Times story said the Fund, worth $77 billion, invested also in ‘nuclear arms companies’.

The Greens have proposed ethical investment rules for the Fund – a position rejected by Labor and the Coalition.

Category: Breaking News

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