* Africa Israel Investments, Danya Cebus excluded for 2nd
* India's Sesa Sterlite also excluded
* Fund allowed to buy sovereign bonds from Myanmar
OSLO, Jan 30 Norway's finance ministry has told
its $810 billion oil fund, the world's biggest sovereign wealth
fund, to stop investing in two Israeli firms and one Indian
company on ethical grounds.
The ministry instructed the fund for a second time to
exclude Africa Israel Investments and its
construction subsidiary Danya Cebus from its
investments and also said it should not invest in Sesa Sterlite
, India's biggest zinc and aluminium maker.
Some 63 firms are on the exclusion list after the decision,
including some of the world's biggest miners, tobacco producers
and makers of certain weapons such as cluster bombs.
Separately, the finance ministry said it would now allow the
wealth fund to buy sovereign bonds issued by Myanmar, after the
lifting of international sanctions on the Asian country.
But the fund is now barred from buying sovereign bonds
issued by North Korea, Syria and Iran, although none of these
countries currently issues sovereign bonds.
Africa Israel Investments and Danya Cebus were first
excluded from the fund in 2010 because they were involved in the
building of Israeli settlements in the West Bank but the ban was
lifted last August.
The government reinstated the exclusion "due to contribution
to serious violations of individual rights in war or conflict
through the construction of settlements in East Jerusalem", it
said in a statement.
Many countries deem Israel's settlements illegal and an
obstacle to peacemaking.
"Africa Israel and its subsidiaries operate both in Israel
and all over the globe promoting their business activities
according to the legislation applicable in all countries where
they operate," said Africa Israel Investments spokeswoman Dalia
"Therefore, we can only express regret over the decision
regarding Africa Israel and other major Israeli companies."
Sesa Sterlite, a subsidiary of mining conglomerate Vedanta
Resources, was also excluded as Vedanta's "relevant
operations in India, which are run through the company Sesa
Sterlite, present an unacceptable risk of environmental damage
and serious violations of human rights".
Sesa Sterlite was not immediately available for comment.
Vedanta was itself excluded from the fund's investment
portfolio in 2007.
"The fund runs an unacceptable risk of contributing to
severe environmental damages and serious or systematic
violations of human rights by continuing to invest in the
company," the ministry said when it excluded Vedanta.
The fund, which invests Norway's surplus oil revenues, is
not allowed to invest in firms involved in severe environmental
damage, "serious and systematic human rights violation", such as
forced labour, the worst forms of child labour, murder or