ESG managers skewer "ridiculous" idea of embracing arms stocks

There’s a group of fund managers overseeing environmental, social and governance investments who worry their field is facing another blow to its credibility.

PFA's Sasja Beslik, Nordea Asset Management's Eric Pedersen and KLP's Kiran Aziz. | Photo: PR

Since the arrival of war in Europe, arms lobbyists, financial analysts and some bankers have been discussing the merits of treating weapons as ESG assets. And with lawmakers in Europe now facing pressure to add defense companies to the bloc’s environmental, social and governance rulebook, critics are asking whether the label risks losing all meaning.

“If we were talking about this two years ago, people would be laughing at us saying how ridiculous that you put a defense stock in an ESG portfolio,” said James Penny, chief investment officer at TAM Asset Management, a London-based firm that’s been running ESG portfolios for almost a decade.

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