SEB Investment Management joins Nordic flight from fossil fuel assets

STOCKHOLM, Feb 9 (Reuters) - SEB Investment Management , one of Scandinavia’s largest asset managers, said on Tuesday it would no longer invest in fossil fuel companies and it expected its holdings to be carbon neutral by 2040.

Investors in the Nordic region have been at the vanguard of environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing and in recent years have turned their focus on the bigger greenhouse gas emitters in a range of industries.

“Our ambition is to invest in companies with long-term sustainable business models, while all funds will at the same time exclude fossil fuels,” Javiera Ragnartz, head of SEB Investment Management, said in a statement.

Businesses involved in the extraction, production and distribution of fossil fuels will be excluded in a policy which rolls out during Q1 2021, the asset manager said.

However, the investment manager, which has 100 billion euros worth of assets under management, declined to say how much of this is comprised of fossil fuel holdings.

SEB said it had developed a new model for evaluating a company’s sustainability credentials, as it targets a portfolio which is entirely carbon neutral by 2040.

Rival asset manager Swedbank Robur said in January it will only invest in oil and gas companies which are on course to be carbon neutral by 2050, a key goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Pollution from fossil fuels causes one in five premature deaths globally - a figure higher than previously thought - according to a study published on Tuesday.

Swedbank’s lending arm last week said it would not offer further financing to companies prospecting for new oil or gas fields.

In January, newly elected U.S. President Joe Biden returned the country to the Paris Agreement, meaning asset managers in the United States will be required again to work towards the treaty’s targets on climate change. (Reporting by Colm Fulton; editing by David Evans)