Investors are urging South Korean industrial group Posco to quit a steel joint venture with a conglomerate controlled by the Myanmar military as pressure builds on multinationals to cut financial ties with the country’s junta.
APG, the $ 668 billion Dutch pension fund, said it was part of a group of investors who feared their stakes in Seoul-listed Posco could jeopardize responsible investment commitments after the reversal of the government of Aung San Suu Kyi by the Burmese army. coup in february.
They highlighted Kirin from Japan, who announced it would come out of his two brewery joint ventures with a company owned by the Burmese military during coup week, as an example to put pressure on Posco.
“The army is killing people every day. . . Many investors get involved [with the campaign at Posco]Said Park Yoo-kyung, APG advisor.
Posco’s majority-owned subsidiary, Posco C&C, runs the steel joint venture with Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited, one of the country’s military-controlled conglomerates.
Calls for foreign groups to withdraw from Myanmar have increased following the army’s deadly crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in 2017 in Rakhine state, in the west of the country. But they intensified since the February coup.
General Min Aung Hlaing’s security forces have killed more than 500 civilians, including children, and arrested nearly 2,700 people, including former officials and protesters, according to human rights groups.
Posco C&C is reviewing its agreements with Myanmar but has given no deadline for a decision. Dividends to MEHL have already been suspended since 2017.
Justice for Myanmar, an influential campaign group, pushed APG along with PGGM, a second Dutch pension fund, to pay out $ 2.3 billion in combined stakes linked to companies in the crisis-stricken country.
Park added that shareholders faced a “dilemma” as divesting Posco was “an easy option,” but it would mean relinquishing their influence over the company.
PGGM said it was “extremely concerned” about the situation in Myanmar. But the fund said it “does not directly finance the government of Myanmar.”
The United States and the United Kingdom have sanctions imposed against MEHL and Myanmar Economic Corporation, another military conglomerate with significant holdings in a number of sectors, further complicating the picture of companies with links to the groups.
The presidential Blue House and South Korea’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment.
JFM also called on Dutch funds to pull out of foreign companies that do business with state-owned companies, which the military now controls.
These include energy groups Total, Chevron and Thai PTT, which are working in partnership with the state-owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise on the Yadana offshore gas project.
However, companies have questioned the impact they would have on the people of Myanmar in times of political crisis and pandemic.
Total, which operates Yadana, on weekends calls from activists rejected to suspend tax payments to the junta, warning that this could expose its local leaders to arrest and imprisonment.
To cut military revenues from the project, the French energy group said it would have to stop production of gas, which provides half of the electricity to Yangon’s 5 million residents.
Chevron, like Total, condemned the military’s human rights violations and said it was working with the project operator “to ensure safe and reliable power for the people of Myanmar in times of crisis and during a pandemic. “.