On 1 January 2013, a ban on investment in cluster munitions came into effect in the Netherlands. From 1 April this year the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (Autoriteit Financiële Markten or 'AFM') will start to formally implement this ban.
The ban will affect a large number of Dutch financial institutions, including investment companies, investment institutions and pension funds, that invest or may invest in companies that are involved in the production, sales and distribution of cluster munitions or supply important parts for cluster munitions, or provide financing to such companies in other ways. This ban also applies to Robeco Institutional Asset Management B.V. (Robeco) and the Dutch and Luxembourg Robeco funds.
For a long time now, Robeco's exclusion policy has contained provisions to ensure that the company does not invest in listed companies that are involved in the cluster munitions business. In fact, Robeco's policy refers to the same international convention that forms the basis for the legislative ban.
In view of the legislative ban, the AFM has recently drawn up an indicative list of companies that are involved in the production, sales and distribution of cluster munitions or supply important parts for cluster munitions. This list is indicative and discussions are still underway between the sector and the AFM to come to a definitive, but still indicative list. The list is dynamic in the sense that it can be periodically adjusted when companies dispose of or even start up cluster munitions activities. The AFM's current indicative list will be regarded as a so-called risk radar and used for this purpose. In other words as a starting point for asking further questions if a Dutch company were to invest in any of the companies mentioned.
There are four companies on the indicative AFM list that are not on Robeco's current exclusion list. These are Aryt Industries, Ashot Ashkelon and Kaman Corp. The fourth company, Splav State Research, is not listed. Robeco can effectively substantiate and has documented why these names are not on Robeco's exclusion list. Furthermore, Robeco is still in discussion with the AFM (together with other asset managers) on this difference in interpretation. In the future, we will continue to have regular contact with the AFM to discuss the indicative list and will give new names consideration in establishing Robeco's own exclusion list.
If you are a Robeco institutional client and wish to ensure that, under the terms of your asset management agreement, investments can never be made in the three aforementioned listed companies, please contact your account manager.
Finally, it is important to mention - especially in respect to Robeco’s integrated asset management offering- that when Dutch financial institutions invest indirectly in index futures or index funds, these instruments or funds are permitted to have a maximum exposure of 5% to companies with cluster munitions activities. It is unlikely that this threshold will be achieved in our opinion. However, if the investment institution is Dutch or has a Dutch manager, it may not invest itself in cluster munitions at all.