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NPS reduces stakes in firms linked to Oxy’s toxic humidifier sterilizers

[THE INVESTOR] The National Pension Service, the nation’s largest institutional investor, said on Sept. 23 it has reduced stakes in firms linked to Oxy Reckitt Benckiser’s toxic humidifier disinfectants that have caused more than 100 deaths in South Korea.

The five firms include four retailers – E-mart, GS Retail, Lotte Shopping and AK Holdings -- and SK Chemical, the material supplier.

Local civic groups boycotting Oxy’s products and their sales through retailers globally have urged the state-run pension fund to withdraw its investments in the firms, citing the responsible investment principles in its asset management guidelines. 




NPS is estimated to own 5.3 percent in Lotte Shopping, 8.05 percent in E-mart, 7.07 percent in GS Retail and 12.96 percent in SK Chemical.

The fund declined to further elaborate on when and how much investments were reduced.

The fund added it has not yet adjusted its indirect investments in foreign firms, including Oxy, Tesco and Costco, and is considering the opinions of asset management firms.

Civic groups estimate NPS has invested 86.1 billion won (US$78 million) in Oxy and 33.7 billion won in Tesco.

On Sept. 22, UK-based Reckitt Benckiser CEO Rakesh Kapoor formally apologized over the toxic humidifier disinfectant scandal. South Korea has confirmed 221 victims in the case. Of them, 177 had used Oxy products.

By Lee Ji-yoon (jylee@heraldcorp.com)
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