MSP pension fund divests from Russian bank 6

MSP pension fund divests from Russian bank

The pension fund for MSPs has divested from a Russian bank sanctioned following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Baillie Gifford, which manages the Scottish Parliamentary Pension Scheme (SPPS), came under pressure to divest from Sberbank, after The Ferret revealed the fund had shares worth £299,571 in the Russian state-owned bank.

Following Vladimir Putin’s decision to attack Ukraine, Britain and the US sanctioned Sberbank, amid global calls for punitive economic sanctions on Russia. Sberbank — listed on the London stock exchange — is Russia’s biggest financial institution.

The trustees of the SPPS wrote to Baillie Gifford requesting divestment following The Ferret’s report last week.

The MSP pension fund was set up at the same time as the Scottish Parliament in 1999 and is run by Baillie Gifford, an investment manager headquartered in Edinburgh.

At present only a rump holding of Russian equity remains that has been fair value priced at zero.

Pauline McNeill MSP

Pauline McNeill MSP — chair of the fund’s trustees — has now informed SPPS members that Baillie Gifford is divesting from Russian equity.

In an email to MSPs on 8 March, McNeill wrote: “Last Monday (28 February), I wrote to our fund manager Baillie Gifford seeking its immediate divestment from Sberbank, and any other Russian companies in which we have holdings. I am able to advise that Baillie Gifford has responded positively. 

McNeiil said that Baillie Gifford advised the trustees that all Russian equity has either been sold, or is in the process of being sold. She added: “At present only a rump holding of Russian equity remains that has been fair value priced at zero. Completion of the equity sale will go through once trading resumes. At present markets are effectively frozen.”

Green MSP, Ross Greer, who lodged a motion in parliament calling for divestment following The Ferret’s report, said: “Our pensions should never have been invested in Russian state-owned companies in the first place, but I am glad this has been dealt with so quickly.”

He added: “This swift action stands in marked contrast to the UK government’s approach to implementing sanctions, which has given Kremlin-linked oligarchs more than enough time to move their money and their mega-yachts out of the UK before they are caught.”

Last week Sberbank’s London-listed shares crashed by as much as 95 per cent and the bank pulled out of Europe due to sanctions.

Sberbank has been asked to comment.

Photo Credit: iStock/Wrangle

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