Funds News

Norway wealth fund chided over Playboy stake

OSLO, March 14 (Reuters) - Norway’s $378 billion sovereign wealth fund, which prides itself on ethical investment, has come under criticism for investing in the publisher of Playboy magazine.

Women’s rights groups and a junior governing coalition partner, the Socialist Left Party, said the fund needs to broaden its ethical guidelines to exclude pornography, which they say demeans women.

“It’s necessary to review the ethical guidelines again to get a broader perspective...a women’s perspective,” Socialist Left women’s issues spokeswoman Tina Aasgaard told daily VG.

The Government Pension Fund -- Global, commonly known as the oil fund, invests Norway’s oil and gas income in foreign stocks and bonds to save for future generations when the oil runs out.

According to the oil fund's 2007 report, it owns about $125,000 worth of stock in Playboy Enterprises PLA.N, or about 0.039 percent of the stock.

Finance ministry spokesman Runar Malkenes said: “This issue was thoroughly discussed when the ethical guidelines were set up and it was decided that as long as it’s a legal product -- be it tobacco or pornography -- it cannot be excluded (from the fund).”

The fund, one of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds, has in past years blacklisted 25 companies that produce nuclear arms or cluster weapons, harm the environment or violate human rights.

The fund's decision to drop U.S. retail giant Wal-Mart WMT.N in 2006 for alleged abuses of worker rights triggered diplomatic tensions between Oslo and Washington. (Reporting by Aasa Christine Stoltz; Editing by Jon Boyle)